Avalanche Avoidance Tips for Snowshoers

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Blue skies and a view for lunch. @justin_hendrickson, Mount Loop Highway, WA.

Spring is here and the skies may be blue, but now is a time for snowshoers to remember the importance of avalanche avoidance.  Two weeks ago, a couple of snowshoers were fatally buried in an avalanche while vacationing in Lake Louise, BC. This comes after a snowshoe avalanche death in Colorado in the 14/15 season.

Avalanches are a real danger to snowshoers in the mountains, especially as spring opens access to trails deeper into the backcountry.  The snowpack and avalanche conditions across the U.S. and Canadian Rockies, the Sierras, and Cascades are extremely complex right now.  Even the Northeast has potential danger zones, thanks to recent March storms.  Tubbs Snowshoes and Backcountry Access want to remind snowshoers to be avalanche aware with these avalanche avoidance tips.

The best avalanche avoidance tip we have for snowshoers is to take an avalanche safety course and learn the five backcountry basics.

Whenever possible, avoid areas that cross through or beneath avalanche terrain, under cliffs or cornices. Be mindful of changing weather, terrain, and snowpack conditions and be prepared to turnaround at the first sign of instability.  It may be spring, but you may be walking on a persistent weak slab layer that was deposited from a November snow storm, that could slide at any moment.

Avalanche Danger Red Flags

  • Recent avalanche activity in the area.
  • Cracking, collapsing snowpack, or whumphing sounds
  • Heavy snowfall or rain in the past 24 hours
  • Heavy wind loaded slopes
  • Gullies and terrain traps below avalanche zones, trees and cliffs
  • Rapidly increasing temperature
  • Persistent weak layers (check the local avalanche advisory)

Your best chance of survival depends on you and your partners. Be prepared and practiced with your avalanche rescue equipment –  avalanche transceiver, probe pole and shovel – before heading into the mountains.

  • If you are caught in an avalanche, ditch awkward gear and attempt to escape to the side of the slide or self-arrest on trees or rocks.
  • If you cannot escape, make an air pocket in front of your face with one hand and reach for the surface with the other hand.
  • Know before you go! If your companion is caught in an avalanche, please follow steps shown in BCA’s companion rescue video series.

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ENTER OUR SPRING THAW GIVEAWAY CONTEST!

Get the gear! Enter for a chance to win your choice of Tubbs Flex Alp or Tubbs Panoramic snowshoes and a new Backcountry Access DTS avalanche rescue package, complete with avalanche beacon, probe & shovel. Enter by April 12, 2017.

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Prize package includes one pair of Tubbs snowshoes and one BCA DTS rescue package, MSRP value $530. New registrations received by 11:59 PM MTN on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 will be eligible to win, US and Canada only. Winner will be selected and contacted by April 30, 2017. All fields must be completed for valid contest entry. You agree to opt-in and to receive Backcountry Access and Tubbs Snowshoes email by entering this contest. Company reserves the right to substitute prizes of similar value based on availability. See contest rules.