You can sense the urgency in avalanche forecasts across the nation as of late.
“All these clues are sending a very clear message – THE SNOWPACK IS HIGHLY UNSTABLE! Staying off any steep slope, this includes lower angle slopes connected to steeper slopes is highly recommended. It’s important to remember that even small slopes such as road cuts can produce deadly avalanches.” – Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast (Montana)
Avalanche conditions are SCARY this season. Low snowpack has left many areas with worse than normal avalanche conditions. Low snowpack has left many skiers and riders hard-up to get out there any time there is new snow. This combination is proving deadly again and again this season.
“Also, another avalanche fatality occurred yesterday near Marias Pass outside of Glacier National Park. This makes the third avalanche fatality to hit Montana in the past six days and raises the total number of avalanche fatalities in the United States to 20.” – Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Forecast (Montana)
If you don’t have your Avalanche 1 & 2 certifications, get them this winter. If you already do, review your material, review the recent accidents, and always review your decision making processes. Anyone can get in trouble out there, but it’s mostly us experienced backcountry travelers who get in the most trouble. It’s just too easy to avoid the obvious signs when you’re fired up to ski pow. It happens to all of us, but let’s think about the dangers right now and move forward knowing that this has been a bad year for avalanches. No need to get anyone else caught out there.
I had a scare recently and I’m still a bit freaked out. We all should be on uber alert out there this year.