Backcountry Avalanche Awareness

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Most are familiar with the basic essentials for hiking during the summer, but just as important, are the essentials for winter trekking adventures. As we transition from fall to winter, now is the time to prepare and be ready for the next big snow day. Below, I have outlined in no certain order, what everyone’s pack should consist of when spending time in the backcountry during the winter when in avalanche prone areas. Preparation is key! Never travel alone, and leave instructions with someone as to where you are going and the expected return time.

Whether you are skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or snowmobiling, you need to heed the dangers of traveling in the backcountry. Having a pack with the necessary supplies is just as essential as understanding snow conditions, when and where it is safe to travel in avalanche prone areas and what to do if one encounters, or is personally trapped in an avalanche.

Below, Backcountry Winter Essentials is a video of the KBYG – Know Before You Go, which provides a great overview of avalanche preparedness, plus a link to AIARE – the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education. AIARE provides hands-on training that will allow you to make smart decisions in avalanche terrain. One comprehensive book that I happened upon last year was “Staying Alive In Avalanche Terrain” by Bruce Tremper. This book is not a substitute to the AIARE training; however, it provides a thorough overview of traveling in avalanche terrain, and may provide some helpful information and tools. Have fun, be safe and be prepared!

Backcountry Winter Essentials

  • Avalanche Preparedness 
    • Floatation
    • Transceiver
    • Shovel
    • Probe
    • Snow Testing Gear
  •  Navigation
    • Cell Phone, Map, Compass and GPS
  • Personal Locater Beacon
  • Insulation
    • Extra layers, Hat & Gloves
  • Illumination
    • Headlamp and/or Flashlight
    • Extra Batteries
  • First-Aid Supplies
  • Fire
    • Matches, Lighter
    • Waterproof Storage Container
    • Stove
  • Repair Kit & Tools
    • Multitool and/or Knife
  • Hydration & Nutrition
    • Water
    • High Carbohydrate/Caloric Foods
    • Extra Food
  • Emergency Shelter
    • Bivy and Reflective Blanket

Resources

AIARE – American Institute for Avalanche Research and Eduction

AVALANCHE.ORG – Avalanche.org

Colorado Avalanche Information Center – CAIC

Utah Avalanche Center – Utah Avalanche Center

Bridger Teton Avalanche Center – Bridger Teton Avalanche Center

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper

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