What can we do to minimise our vulnerability in an avalanche zone?
Take the B.A.D. approach (Before, Approach, During).
Before – before we set off on our journey, we should review the weather forecast. Check the snow/avalanche forecast. Look at other people’s blogs (they may give details about conditions out on the mountains). And study a map of the area, including any route(s) we intend to follow or avoid.
Approach – on our approach we should observe the weather conditions – do they match the forecast, or are conditions proving unpredictable? We should look for signs of any recent avalanche activity, or instability. If possible, we should check the descent route too.
During – we should constantly reassess the weather conditions for any change, and, as we travel through the snow. We should be aware of any signs of instability. If there is any cause for concern, we should remember to be flexible and consider alternative routes.
Consider the history of the snowpack – look at the previous 7 days of weather and avalanche forecast before going out on a trip. Sometimes, 7 days is not enough, you may have to look at the history of the snowpack from the beginning of the winter. This depends on where you are in the world, and the weather conditions.
Approach conditions – as climbers we are very likely to approach a climb on a slope which is the perfect angle for avalanches. So consider the avalanche conditions, and make sure you have alternatives to the route choice.
Snow conditions above the route – keep in mind that your route choice may be under an area that may be at risk of an avalanche, or you may be crossing the path of potential avalanche looming. Avalanches are very often triggered by parties above.
Please consider all of the above topics when you go out in winter conditions, where avalanche safety and awareness are a must, whether going skiing, ski-touring, winter walking, mountaineering or climbing.
“The mountain will be there tomorrow, make sure you are.”
If you would like to learn more, or you are interested in a winter course, please follow the link below: