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Avalanche info for dummies??

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I'm an east coast skier with the annual trip to the Rockies and am interested in some "beginner info" on avalanches.  I saw references to Stemper's 2008 book "Staying Alive"  Is this still the best reference or are there more current reads?  thx

post #2 of 20

Avalanche.ca

 

Click the learn tab. there is a free online course, as well as lots of good info 

post #3 of 20

GerryF

 

http://www.amazon.com/Snow-Sense-Evaluating-Avalanche-Hazard/dp/061549935X

 

"Snow Sense", co-authors Jill Fredston/ Doug Fesler is a good one.   Hope you have fun on your trip.

post #4 of 20

If you're seriously planning to go into the backcountry on your trip out west, there's no real 'short cut' or 'Avalanche info for dummies' to keep you safe... your book suggestion as well as the suggestions of others are definitely a great starting point and I also ++ recommend those.  

 

If your skiing inbounds at resorts - than no worries.

 

If your skiing 'side country'  - resort lift up and close out of bounds back into the resort - than most times, 'side country' is the same as 'backcountry' with just as many risks - with only a very few exceptions.

 

In the backcountry, make sure you have at the minimum:

 

Beacon, probe and shovel - and practice on how to use them

Skiing partners who also have beacon, probe and shovel and also know how to use them

Ability to recognize avalanche terrain

Ability to determine snow stability and changing conditions

Know where to find Avalanche hazard warnings and information

Knowledge of how to travel 'safely' in Avalanche terrain

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche training class is a great idea.

 

If you're only going backcountry on a once a year vacation, than maybe going with a guide service might be the best option.

 

Backcountry is great -  but you don't want to take any shortcuts with your life - be well prepared.

post #5 of 20
ARE you planning on back country skiing or just concerned about resort skiing? Because it's not just avalanches, there's also tree wells at some resorts (and on the back country) and I think the are more deaths due to tree wells.
post #6 of 20
Having a little bit of knowledge about avy risk is shown to be more dangerous than no knowledge as your sense of complacency increases faster than your true understanding of risk. Most people that die in avalanches have taken their avy 1.

If you are a neophyte coming from the East and wanting to ski backcountry, do so with a guide. If inbounds where the risk is exceptionally low, probably no harm in reading some books. But reading a book to head out in unfamiliar terrain is courting death.
post #7 of 20

I think you mean Bruce Tremper. He's the author of "Staying Alive..." which is an excellent book, but a more basic book to start with is his Avalanche Essentials, available in many  bookstores, but also at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Avalanche-Essentials-System-Safety-Survival/dp/1594857172/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8)

 

As for video resources you can find all kinds online. K2 offers a good series of YouTube videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4ZKY3_0lhc&list=PLGA8RmHpTUF-mn0Kgum77vdofS8_AGD9G), as does BCA (http://backcountryaccess.com/learn-avalanche-safety/). The K2 series goes by the title "Backside Elevated Education". Episodes 9, 11, 12 through 16 are the most relevant regarding avalanche avoidance and snow stability tests. The BCA series is also very good at demonstrating slope stability tests, but it goes beyond snowpack analysis to include companion rescue, not surprising given that BCA is the manufacturer of one of the more popular avalanche transceivers, as well as one of the most affordable airbag packs.

 

Hope this helps.

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by ILOJ View Post
 

...

 

If your skiing inbounds at resorts - than no worries.

 

 

I too used to think that inbounds skiing did not require worrying about slides. Then one day I went for a ride inbounds. It was a just a little slab and only went a little way. But I was skiing alone and did not know enough to even report the slide to the liftie. On the same trip at a different resort I came to a stop on an inbound trail and watched a 20 foot long fracture break from a buried rock to right underneath my ski tips and send a foot of snow sliding, leaving my ski tips hanging in mid air and me needing fresh underwear. I still don't "worry" about slides while skiing inbounds. But I have since done some homework on avalanche awareness. While deaths are rare from inbounds slides, they do happen and plenty of inbound slides happen that don't get reported. While there is certainly a risk of becoming overconfident from getting some avie training (think people getting reckless because they wear helmets), broadening one's knowledge does not guarantee an increased risk. Just learning about the psychological factors that can increase risk is well worth the effort.

post #9 of 20
Something like this?

11164682_10100418845577339_7047650014035516011_o.jpg?efg=eyJpIjoidCJ9

Daughter's pic last year near East Rim Chutes. The whole surface started moving over the cliffs.
post #10 of 20

Yipes!  There was a you tube vid posted of  JH? ski patrol and the patroller said, if you ski off piste,  always carry a beacon, even inbounds.

post #11 of 20

Rusty Sibhusky Mom - Yup can happen inbounds too even though rare.  My son and I oftentimes wear our beacons on inbounds  resort days -  you just never know.... also, someone mentioned tree wells - always cautious about that too.

post #12 of 20

ILOJ has some solid advice and although I am not familiar with surfacehoar's reference (know the site, just not the course) I am sure that is god as well.

 

My piece that I would like to add is that the back country  snow pack is much different than the ski area snow pack.  In the ski area the slopes have been controlled by patrol and  perhaps most importantly they have seen repeated daily compaction throughout the season.  This results in a much much more stable and different snow pack than what is in the back country.  Just because the terrain looks similar in the back country and it is terrain you feel very comfortable skiing in bounds, the danger may be very different.

 

The second piece of advice is to read the avalanche bulletin regularly.  What problems are the forecasts discussing?  Do you understand them?  The term moderate is perhaps an unfortunate one as it sounds benign.

 

Education is good and necessary to go in the back country.  Continue to work on it.  No one knows all the information they need and be wary of people who act like they do.  Caution is your friend.  Ski movies and powder fever blind us to the danger.

post #13 of 20
Start here

www.kbyg.org

HB
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 

SIB...  I'm more curious now and am considering a "side country" day with some friends later this year.  in the big picture, I'm planning a move out west in 2-3 yrs.  so I'm trying to ramp up my knowledge base...

post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarkinBanks View Post

Start here

www.kbyg.org

HB


Really good place to start!  The 15 min film on the website is very well done.  KBYG stands for Know Before You Go.  It's a non-profit that put together materials focused on middle and high school students but is good for adults as well.

 

I saw a presentation in LCC about snow a few years ago that included video of slides initiated by Alta Ski Patrol.  It's an eye opening experience even for someone who has no interest in back country skiing.  More than once, I've been at Alta in late season when you could see slides on Ballroom that went below the traverse.

post #16 of 20

I'm a big believer in the power of stories. It is sometimes too easy to look just at the "technical stuff" without thinking about your own world frame.

 

I'd suggest digesting the following:

 

Jill Fredston has written technical stuff - per the above. But she also has a book offering a personal perspective. It is awesome:  http://www.amazon.com/Snowstruck-Grip-Avalanches-Jill-Fredston/dp/0156032546

 

This NYT piece is super good: http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2012/snow-fall/#/?part=tunnel-creek. Pay particular attention to the audio/video components of the NYT piece. I saw some of the aftermath unfold from an unusual and earlier than average vantage point. I still choke up over that day - especially if I go back and review the NYT article.

post #17 of 20

There is a thread at the top of Backcountry that has some references that might be good.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/100439/avalanche-sticky

 

Not directly related to avalanches, but this thread is a place to start when thinking about AT gear.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/143518/source-for-info-discussion-on-at-equipment

post #18 of 20

I am not big into skiing trees yet, but I do know that before heading out to Steamboat last year, spent a lot of time reading and watching videos regarding tree wells.

 

This is a great site to visit if you need info: http://www.deepsnowsafety.org/index.php/

post #19 of 20

I'm a big believer in the power of stories. It is sometimes too easy to look just at the "technical stuff" without thinking about your own world frame.

 

I'd suggest digesting the following:

 

Jill Fredston has written technical stuff. But this is more of a tale of her relationship and experience with avalanches - http://www.amazon.com/Snowstruck-Grip-Avalanches-Jill-Fredston/dp/0156032546

 

This is an amazing bit of journalism.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2012/snow-fall/#/?part=tunnel-creek

 

Pay particular attention to the audio/video components of the NYT piece. I saw some of the aftermath unfold from an unusual and earlier than average vantage point that day. I still choke up over it - especially if I go back and review the NYT article.


Edited by spindrift - 11/16/15 at 5:19pm
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post
 

I too used to think that inbounds skiing did not require worrying about slides. Then one day I went for a ride inbounds. It was a just a little slab and only went a little way. But I was skiing alone and did not know enough to even report the slide to the liftie. On the same trip at a different resort I came to a stop on an inbound trail and watched a 20 foot long fracture break from a buried rock to right underneath my ski tips and send a foot of snow sliding, leaving my ski tips hanging in mid air and me needing fresh underwear. I still don't "worry" about slides while skiing inbounds. But I have since done some homework on avalanche awareness. While deaths are rare from inbounds slides, they do happen and plenty of inbound slides happen that don't get reported. While there is certainly a risk of becoming overconfident from getting some avie training (think people getting reckless because they wear helmets), broadening one's knowledge does not guarantee an increased risk. Just learning about the psychological factors that can increase risk is well worth the effort.

Well stated @The Rusty. I've had similar experiences inbounds as well. A simple change in aspect can create a sketchy situation when there is a lot of new snow or a wind event. On big snow days, I use the same "eyes" that I do in the backcountry.

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