How to avoid being avalanched

I wrote this article a couple of years ago for a ski magazine and it has since been republished in Whitelines snowboarding and a number of ski club mags. It gives an over view of what you can do to limit your exposure to avalanche danger. It is not comprehensive by any means but lets you know the major risks and hopefully prompts you to seek out further information.

How to avoid being avalanched and what to do if you are caught out

Risk Assessment and preparation.

The golden rule of back country or off piste skiing and snowboarding is to AVOID avalanches. Everyone should be properly equipped and trained to deal with an avalanche but nobody should ever have to ! The key to safety is Local Knowledge. The problem is that the best slopes to board and ski down are the most avalanche prone. If you are touring then you can plan your route to avoid dangerous slopes but if you are looking for steep powder runs then you are deliberately putting yourself in a dangerous position.
You should be aware of the local conditions before you go out. When did it last snow? Are there any slopes that always avalanche? Has it been warm or cold? How many snowfalls have there been this season? How windy has it been? Have there been many avalanches this season? All these questions give you an idea of the risk you are facing. There is no substitute for local experience and knowledge. You are most at risk just after a snowfall and the more snow that fell the greater the risk.
New snow added in 3 days compared with observed avalanches

Up to 10cm – rare avalanches, mostly loose snow
10 – 30 cm – very occasional slabs, frequent sloughs
30 – 50 cm – frequent slabs on slopes 35 degrees
50 – 80 cm – widespread slabs on slopes down to 25 degrees

Read the full version of this article HERE