The 2019 snow season kicked into high gear early this year allowing many ski resorts across the american west to open early than scheduled. The 2018/2019 winter proved to be historic in the number of avalanches that occurred in the state of Colorado. But what do you need to know when you venture beyond the confines of the groomed trials and into the backcountry. 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. Backcountry Avalanche Awareness 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 gear 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 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 was “Staying Alive In Avalanche Terrain” by Bruce Tremper. This book is not a substitute to the AIARE training or at minimum a basic course in Backcountry Avalanche Awareness; 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
- Snow Testing Gear
- Cell Phone, Map, Compass and GPS
- Personal Locater Beacon
- Extra layers, Hat & Gloves
- Headlamp and/or Flashlight
- Extra Batteries
- First-Aid Supplies
- Matches, Lighter
- Waterproof Storage Container
- Repair Kit & Tools
- Multitool and/or Knife
- Hydration & Nutrition
- High Carbohydrate/Caloric Foods
- Extra Food
- Emergency Shelter
- Bivy and Reflective Blanket
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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