Get Your Avalanche Safety On


Powder days have already been flying in the Pacific Northwest, and they're not far behind in the rest of the country (hopefully). That means backcountry skiers and snowboarders across the land are dusting off the helmets, waxing up the old planks and… brushing up on their avy safety. 

I shall assume you backcountry travelers have taken your avalanche 1 courses. (If not, check out a listing of courses near you and figure out where the nearest avalanche forecast center is.) 

Otherwise, I offer three suggestions: 

1. Re-read Snow Sense, one of the avalanche-safety bibles. Just get yourself a beer and sit down and read it. It's like 90 pages. A sobering and motivating fact: Over 30 skiers and snowboarders died in avalanches last season. 

2. Check out Backcountry Access's primers to jog your memory of key safety precautions. Or go to, a site put together by the National Avalanche Center and the American Avalanche Association. They publish primers on avalanche safety that'll help get the old brain cogs spinning again. 

3. Hold a beacon-finding party. Best results when it's coed and prizes are involved. 

Kate Siber