One of the basics of avalanche avoidance and good backcountry travel protocol is to always stop below your partner(s), not above them. The reason for this is two-fold; one is that you might blow your last turn and take out your partners from above, and the other is that the weight of a stopping person may cause the slope to fracture, especially if it is already weighted by another person. If this happens, it often breaks right at the top person’s skis and then takes the lower person for a ride. I had this happen once and it was almost a slow-motion comedy. I had stopped, then my partner skied up behind me, came to a stop, the slope fractured at this edges and I started to get swept away, but not before I said “Thanks.” to which he said “Sorry.” It had a happy ending as I was able to grab onto a tree, but ever since then, I go out of my way to stop in places where my partners will have a hard time stopping above me.
It is a subtle difference (and kind of a bad photo to illustrate the point), but stopping position “A” is much better for the first person than stopping point “B” although both are about the same as far as being protected from an avalanche coming down from above. Position “A” is tucked right up underneath a rock, which doesn’t leave the second skier any other chance BUT to stop below you.
Help support StraightChuter.com and find your partner quickly if you accidentally send them for a ride, with a Pieps DSP Smart Transmitter from Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below…
Category: 07 Avalanche Avoidance