Backcountry Avalanche Awareness Vol. 2

Never Summer Range

It is patently obvious the 2020/2021 winter will be vastly different than the start of the 2019 season. We all know how the season came to an end in March 2020 with the closure of all ski resorts across the country as they succumbed to the pandemic. While we still continue to battle the pandemic one thing is certain it has driven more people to explore and recreate in the great outdoors. This includes those venturing into the backcountry for the first time. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center recently completed a study of the Education and Experience Levels of those involved in avalanches during the 2019/2020 season. I read through the analysis with a preconceived notion the most avalanches would have involved first timers or those with minimal experience. However, it is those with most experience that had been involved in a majority of the avalanche incidents. Thus it is important to understand backcountry avalanche awareness now more so than ever. For your safety and those who maybe called into a rescue situation I present Backcountry Avalanche Awareness Vol 2.

Below, I have outlined in no certain order, what everyone’s pack should contain when traveling in the backcountry during the winter when in avalanche prone areas. Backcountry avalanche awareness preparation is key! Never travel alone, leave instructions with someone as to where you are going and the expected return time and commit to getting the forecast.

Whether you are skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or snowmobiling, you need to heed the dangers of recreating 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.

Following the Backcountry Avalanche Awareness 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!

  • 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
Backcountry Avalanche Awareness Resources

AIARE – American Institute for Avalanche Research and Eduction


Colorado Avalanche Information Center – CAIC

Utah Avalanche Center – Utah Avalanche Center

Bridger Teton Avalanche Center – Bridger Teton Avalanche Center

Sierra Avalanche Center – Sierra Avalanche Center

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper


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