The Wasatch Mountains have been getting some good storms lately and it has been dumping snow here all day. Yippy! I’ve had to plow out the driveway twice in eight hours, the wind is howling and the avalanche danger is on the rise. All of which means it is a good time to go skiing this morning. *
Skiing during high avalanche danger is a double edged sword – on one hand there is no better way to experience unstable snow than to stomp around on it, yet at the same time stomping in the wrong area can be lethal. Here are some thoughts on skiing during periods of high danger:
- It is more about the experience than the turns. Pick an ultrasafe area, scale back on your ambitions and think of it as more of a field trip than a skiing tour.
- Look for low angle terrain and safe ridge-lines. Especially avoid big hanging fields above you that might naturally release and sweep down on top of you.
- A like-minded partner is essential to avoid getting peer pressured into steeper terrain.
- Part of the challenge of going out on deep & dangerous days is to find slopes that are steep enough to ski down, but not steep enough to avalanche. This may be impossible at times, so be prepared to get shut down and follow your skin track back.
- Be aware of routes that are 95% safe. If it is a four mile tour with one little 200′ exposed section, you can bet that during high danger that’s where the accidents will happen.
- Practice impeccable safe travel techniques.
Category: 07 Avalanche Avoidance