Must Know Information for Traveling in Avalanche Terrain

Must Know information for Traveling in Avalanche Terrain – How to Managing your Avalanche Risk

Remember the #1 take-home is most accidents are related to decision making not technical skills. So make sure your group focuses your day around teamwork, collaboration, communication, and managing expectations.

1. Prepare For your trip. This should include each week, month and season. Preparing for your trip includes:

  • Continuing and Updating Your Avalanche Training. This is a lifelong process. If you are rusty or lacking this in this area. Register or take a course with a professional educator. See our courses.
  • Practice Your Avalanche Rescue Skills. Best to practice under low stress and get your systems down and gear dialed. Have a party or make it fun with friends and/or family.
  • Check Out The Current Avalanche Bulletin And seeing patterns and trends. For those of you in Colorado, check out the CAIC or bookmark our Snow page:
  • Exploring trip options (route options including ascending and descent options, risk and consequence of routes). Create your own adventures and give your self lots of options.
BCA Tracker 2 avalanche transceiver - Gear review by Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides
BCA Tracker 3 avalanche transceiver – Gear review by Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides
Colorado Avalanche Rescue Training Course
Colorado Avalanche Rescue Training Course – Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides

2. Planning Your Trip on the day of the Tour. Planning for your trip includes:

  • Getting you group together. Remember to agree to risk tolerance and decision making criteria prior to going on your tour.
  • Reviewing the current avalanche problems in the bulletin. Check out your state avalanche bulletin. Bookmark our daily snow reports page to expedite getting local front range weather stations and up to date wind and snow fall data.  CWRAG Daily Snow Report Page
  • Plan your route base on the current problems. If you are need an update for map and compass or winter navigation we are offering free 2 hour lectures in 2018 and 2019 at the following locations: Jax Loveland, Boulder Topo Designs, Rab Denver and Boulder Moosejaw. Check out our events page for upcoming free clinics.
  • Review your Emergency plans. Remember to create an emergency plan for each trip. Leave route and timeline with someone you trust and give them emergency contact numbers if you are overdue. 
Preparing for a day in avalanche terrain. Checking in with the group at the trailhead and gear check at sunrise.
Preparing for a day in avalanche terrain. Checking in with the group at the trailhead and gear check at sunrise.

3. Ride Safely. Planning for your trip includes:

  • Checking your groups gear at the trailhead. Their have many days were beacons, skis or even boots are left at home. When this happens, either we have a spare or decide there is another activity option for the day.
  • Monitoring Conditions as you travel. Get out your snow detector googles for the day. This starts when you leave the door and continues throughout the day.
  • Regular checkins and updating your plan throughout the day. Make sure to have agreed upon checkins prior to setting out.
  • Making observations and identifying avalanche terrain. Again the snow detector googles for risks and consequences of the problems. Are the problems becoming worse or healing?
  • Using terrain to lower your avalanche hazard and risk. The best way to manage the hazard is to use terrain to your advantage.
Gore Range Ski Tours with Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides
Gore Range Ski Tours with Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides

4. Review how the day went. Reviewing your day includes:

  • What were the conditions. Did we make recording for the day. We use for days and months from previous years to look at and compare to current conditions and help better understand current conditions by using past history.
  • What decision did your group make. We are constantly learning and usually learn more from our errors than our successes. Embrace an be compassionate and empathetic on ourselves and teammates.
  • In the future, what would you do differently. Challenge yourself to change and improve.
  • Plan your next trip. On every trip, my personal goal is always to plan the next trip when the current one ends. This helps make sure I stay inspired.
2018 Denver IPW - A Partnership of Visit Denver, Colorado Tourism Office and Travel USA Denver Bikes And Brews
2018 Denver IPW – A Partnership of Visit Denver, Colorado Tourism Office and Travel USA Denver Bikes And Brews

In terms of the New AIARE recreation track, it is now 7 days of education (3 days level 1 – learning the decision making process, 1 day of avalanche rescue, and 3 days of mentoring and applying the decision making process to more complex terrain.

The professional track is the same beginning for AIARE level 1 and AIARE avalanche rescue. The New professional track then goes to a professional level 1 course / exam. This takes about 3-5 years of professional experience. Afterwards, Professional 2 course and exam which is recommended for those with 7 or more years of professional experience. The professional track goes more into snow science, forecasting, and has exams and thus certifications. Recreational track is certificate of completion with no exams.

We have many level 1 AIARE avalanche education course in 2018 – 2019. Call us at 720-242-9828 and Register today! We also have two AIARE Rescue courses and 1 AIARE level 2 in 2018-2019. Check out our courses. 

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