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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last year I wrote on the topic on Tree Wells, and it got stickied on the front page. I will never know, but if it saved one person from the perils of drowning in snow, I will forever feel grateful and happy for that. >:) Even if for a second, someone stopped and re-evaluated their line, that's good enough for me, at least you though to stop and think.

This year, I spent some time writing a more in depth research blog post on backcountry avalanche danger, please take a look, it's a quick read.

I encourage everyone to take and avi class at least once in their life, you will be safer for it. Your friends will be safer for it as well. But doing extra readings is always good too. You should never stop learning!

Avalanche Awareness: 5 Safety Tips For The Backcountry Adventurer

Plus, if you have any more tips that I could include in the article, please feel free to discuss it here.

Thank you guys, love this community. Keep on shredding and stay safe. :grin::grin::laugh2:
 

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The Swiss Miss
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Know the drill. Beakon, showel and probe are pretty usless if you don't know how to used them. Exercise multi burrial scenarios, exercise digging. It should be second skin.

BTW: where is that first pic located? Looks so familiar...

And thanks for the tree well nightmares! Naw, seriously... glad I learned abt them, especially since we'll visit PNW soon. Had been the first time I heard abt their existence.
 
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So by recognizing danger you mean you need to be able to recognize avalanche terrain. Not sure how you would want to word it.

You might want to describe what a Leeward and Windward slope is. Windward is pretty easy but saying something like Leeward is where the wind leaves the snow might be appropriate. Pillows, convexities are your main dangers here.

Talk about how the second you go under that rope, walk out of the parking area, get on the trail head you are potentially in avalanche terrain.

There are three essential pieces of gear. Beacon, Shovel, Probe. Practice with them from time to time.

Read the avalanche report, everyday. It's a quick read and it will help you understand the problem. It takes me less than a minute to to get the gist of the what the dangers are for the day. Two minutes if I read the discussion portion too.

Finally, you have to learn about avalanches to avoid them. The best thing you can do is take a Level 1 avalanche course from a reputable guide service/avalanche school. Look for AIARE approved providers. The class is an expense for sure, but way cheaper than a funeral, and in reality they are a pretty good time.

If you want to check it out more before deciding if you want to go all in there most Avalanche centers offer some sort of free Avalanche Awareness class in their regions. You can link to all North American Avalanche centers from Avalanche.org.

AIARE is also promoting the Know Before You Go program. KBYG - Know Before You Go Avalanche Safety

In Colorado there is also the Friends of San Juans and Friends of Berthoud Pass who offer free avalanche awareness classes and also offer a Free on snow day too. FOBP is an organization I have been a member of for over 11 years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So by recognizing danger you mean you need to be able to recognize avalanche terrain. Not sure how you would want to word it.

You might want to describe what a Leeward and Windward slope is. Windward is pretty easy but saying something like Leeward is where the wind leaves the snow might be appropriate. Pillows, convexities are your main dangers here.

Talk about how the second you go under that rope, walk out of the parking area, get on the trail head you are potentially in avalanche terrain.

There are three essential pieces of gear. Beacon, Shovel, Probe. Practice with them from time to time.

Read the avalanche report, everyday. It's a quick read and it will help you understand the problem. It takes me less than a minute to to get the gist of the what the dangers are for the day. Two minutes if I read the discussion portion too.

Finally, you have to learn about avalanches to avoid them. The best thing you can do is take a Level 1 avalanche course from a reputable guide service/avalanche school. Look for AIARE approved providers. The class is an expense for sure, but way cheaper than a funeral, and in reality they are a pretty good time.

If you want to check it out more before deciding if you want to go all in there most Avalanche centers offer some sort of free Avalanche Awareness class in their regions. You can link to all North American Avalanche centers from Avalanche.org.

AIARE is also promoting the Know Before You Go program. KBYG - Know Before You Go Avalanche Safety

In Colorado there is also the Friends of San Juans and Friends of Berthoud Pass who offer free avalanche awareness classes and also offer a Free on snow day too. FOBP is an organization I have been a member of for over 11 years.
Thank you for the time you have take to write this. I will definitely include your info. It took me a while to write, organize the topic so it made some sense to people. :wink: and there is so much out there, to condense it shortly is almost impossible.
 

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There really is a ton of info. I like KBYG's message. Get the gear, get the Training, get the forecast, get the picture, and get out of harm's way. Five steps to getting experienced in backcountry travel. The Northwest Avalanche Center has a slogan, "Make every trip a round trip" which I also really like. The mind set there is excellent.

Feel free to PM me for any clarifications, thoughts, whatever. I'll try to answer the best to my knowledge. I also have good resources to field questions to that might be beyond me.
 

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Hey AIR,

Great read! Will spend more time going through it once I'm out of work.

Just took my first AST1 last weekend, and it was amazing. Unbelievable how much you can learn on a 1st exposure..... even so, most of the participants had already taken AST1 before and had also gone on a variety of bc trips; yet ALL of them learned new stuff and were stoked with the course.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hey AIR,

Great read! Will spend more time going through it once I'm out of work.

Just took my first AST1 last weekend, and it was amazing. Unbelievable how much you can learn on a 1st exposure..... even so, most of the participants had already taken AST1 before and had also gone on a variety of bc trips; yet ALL of them learned new stuff and were stoked with the course.
Thank you!

Totally agree. I am no bc expert, but I like to transfer the knowledge I have to others, and the best way to learn something is to teach it to others. And if you do have your AST1, its always good to refresh your mind about these things. :wink:
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)

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AST Group photo:


By the way.... that avy near Whistler was a clear example of someone not ready/prepared enough to be there. I guess it's a good thing the guy made it out ok, and also a great lesson for everyone.

At least 2-3 CLEAR red flags the guy should have avoided. But obviously, easier said than done, especially with hindsight.
 

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At least 2-3 CLEAR red flags the guy should have avoided. But obviously, easier said than done, especially with hindsight.
This cannot be overstated. The go/no-go decision, especially when the danger is not obvious, is very difficult. There will always be another line and another day to ride. People forget that when they are trying to weigh the risk versus the reward.
 

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This cannot be overstated. The go/no-go decision, especially when the danger is not obvious, is very difficult. There will always be another line and another day to ride. People forget that when they are trying to weigh the risk versus the reward.
Well, I think the issue even goes beyond the go/no-go situation.

Even after they had decided to hit it.... a few things to note:
1. Why the hell would he brake-check and full stop on a clear avalanche path/gully?? that's precisely the kind of feature you want to just brush by. Not set up camp, brake check and stop.

2. That sun-baked slope. I've been exactly to that spot he's on, that face gets a lot of sun. Head on. Look at the video. It's full blast sun. Right on the face, not a single cloud. Bad idea.

3. I'm pretty sure the Avy risk was Moderate that day. That specific bit was definitely a tricky spot to hit. Steep, convex, facing the sun all day AND a gully. And he's clearly not an expert..... maybe they were pushing it. That's fine. But why push it right there? lots of other faces they could have hit nearby.

There's more.... I read some analysis yesterday and yeah, there were lots more problems having to do with wind-loading, type of snow-pack etc. But those above are really obvious. The new snow that fell last week was much heavier than the blower we had the week before. Temps were changing as we had some arctic thing blowing the week before but now it's gone. etc etc.

I even triggered a little sluff on Monday. Steep bit on an alpine face, but definitely not set up in an avalanche path like this. The steep bit was pretty brief, and it was a North-facing in-bounds bowl.
MotoGp was there and saw it happen..... I was basically traversing quickly to stay ahead of it and get out of that spot. Not a big issue and there was never any real risk. But if those little slides where happening there..... I'm sure there were slides going around elsewhere.

But yeah, in the end..... I think it's a great wake-up reminder for everyone. It's serious business out there.
 
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