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Avalanches can be extremely dangerous. Know your terrain before you go. Learn all of the avalanche facts that you can. Check local avalanche forecast to see if an avalanche is a possibility. When you travel in avalanche-prone areas you have to be knowledgeable in recognizing terrain, the avoidance of avalanche areas, and planning your routes. It is also useful to be skilled in search and rescue techniques. Always carry the proper gear like shovels, avalanche transceivers, and probe poles. If you don’t know what these things are, you should not be traveling in avalanche-prone terrain.

Types of Avalanches

Loose Snow Avalanches – Start from a single point adding and accumulating more and more loose snow as they spread out. They are caused by the new fallen snows weight submitting to the force of gravity. Occurring mostly after cycles of heavy snow (about 10 inches or more of accumulation, or snow falling an inch or more every hour) most often when it is piled atop a smooth snow surface that has melted, thawed and froze. This type of surface creates a smooth, slippery ramp for the new snow to run off of.

Slab Avalanches – Are caused when dense packed overlaying segments of snow are not securely established to the slope. When there’s a weak layer of snow on the bottom of a compact layer, the slope is likely on the point of avalanche. Forces like the sun, the wind, or a person can set off the slab.

Avalanche Sites – Slopes anywhere from 25 and 40+ degrees. Especially slopes that are in the direction that the wind is blowing. These get greater snow loads.

Crossing Avalanche Zones

  1. Remove straps on ski poles and undo all buckles on packs.
  2. 2. Put on more warm clothing in case you are lured into a danger of being trapped.
  3. To keep snow out of your clothes (collars, cuffs, etc.) fasten and zip up all clothing securely.
  4. Use an avalanche beacon or an avalanche cord.
  5. If a slide is set off, look for any land mass of safety like a protruding rock, an elongated area of trees and head to it’s safety.
  6. With all group members watching each other, cross only one at a time.