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Avalanche Safety

  1. Most victims trigger their own avalanche.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for evidence of sliding, snow sluffs – small slides indicating avalanche danger, avalanche chutes or slides where trees have been torn away, or snow debris at the bottom of a slope indicating previous avalanches.
  3. Keep track of the weather. The first 24 hours after a heavy snow, high wind, rain, or thaw is the most dangerous period. Check local avalanche forecasts and be prepared to postpone your trip if the danger is high. Delaying for 24-48 hours can significantly reduce the danger.
  4. Recognize danger zones and be conservative about planning your route or crossing a slope.
  5. Travel on ridge tops or heavily wooded areas as much as possible.
  6. Avoid the mid slopes or the release zone near the top of the slope.
  7. Detour completely around a suspect slope.
  8. If you must cross and avalanche slope, gather as much information as you can about the snow pack. Probe the snow to see if there is even resistance (if so the danger may be reduced). If there is uneven resistance to the probe (breaks through a crust, punches into layers of loose or unconsolidated snow) then the avalanche danger may be high. Even better, find a safe location on an adjacent slope with similar exposure, snow level and steepness and dig a test pit. Look at the different layers. If you see layers characterized by course, grainy, crystals, the slope is probably not safe. If layers are firm and bonded it might be safe.