One of the most iminent dangers of big winter storms is the very real possibility of avalanches.
They can come down when and where least expected, as they do each winter. Cars coming down the canyon can be
hit by an unforgiving wall of snow and almost pushed off the cliff and people skiing within boundaries of the
resorts get caught up in a surprise avalanche. You sort of expect snow danger when
you're skiing in the backcountry, while driving on the road?
And,avalanches are the number one natural disaster related cause of death in the US.
The best way to stay safe is to NOT venture out into the backcountry at all. But, since fresh powder is
impossible to resist, I won't even suggest shutting yourself in your house and reading a book by the fire.
(Unless, of course, it's a book on Avalanche Safety--see below). But there are things to do to reduce the
chances of becoming a statistic.
- Check the weather and avalanche reports before venturing out.
- USA National
- And, know what the reports mean:
- Avoid the backcountry and stick to the groomed trails. The Ski patrol and resort authorities do their
best to keep the trails safe and to keep the unsafe trails roped off.
- Don't ignore safety signs and off-limits trails. The warnings there might save your life.
- Consider taking a safety course. Many places have 1-day or multi-day avalanche preparedness courses.
- Or, consider reading up on the subject:
- ABC's of Avalanche Safety
by Ed LaChapelle, Avalanche danger is a very serious threat to backcountry winter
travelers. Learn how to prepare, what to look for, and what to do to keep safe.
by David McClung & Peter Schaerer
- If you can't avoid going into the backcountry:
- But don't just listen to me, read about some
first-hand accounts of avalanche encounters.
It is a REAL danger and should be respected.