Fresh Avalanche Safety Tips From G3's Team To You
In honour of #AvalancheAwarenessDays this week, we asked our G3 athletes and ambassadors to share their personal avalanche safety tips with the community. In addition to John's tips and Jesse's practical slope tests, here are some relevant tips from a well-rounded crew of guides and freeskiers.
Reversing the Alphabet
Plan your day, and have options. The psychology of having a Plan A, Plan B, etc. can be a little bit of a trap in itself. Plan A is usually the cool plan: skiing the beautiful line from the top. Plan B is the less cool, more conservative plan. Plan C is starting to feel pretty lame...
Instead, reverse your process so that Plan A is the most conservative option. The "cool plan", skiing the beautiful line from the top, should be much further down the alphabet.
Make sure that your terrain choices are appropriate for the danger rating, and avoid the avalanche problem. Gather information as you go. If you see things you didn't anticipate, especially red flags like recent avalanches, whumpfing, or shooting cracks, take a step backwards in the alphabet.
With this approach, getting to the "cool plan" may or may not happen, but if it does it will be through a step by step process of information gathering, verification, and easing into bigger terrain.
-Tyler Reid, AMGA, Pacific Alpine Guides
Tyler enjoying a good plan...
Be Mindful of the Human Factor
I find the human factors in Backcountry decision making very interesting. We can look at the snowpack, weather and other environmental factors and make educated decisions based on facts. But the more subtle human behaviours involved in objective based days can be the real sleeper when it comes to group safety..... How well do we know our partners? Do they have more or less risk tolerance than us? Are they hungrier for a certain objective than we are? Did they get a good sleep? Are they emotionally sound (breakups or family issues)?
All of these things effect the way we make decisions and our response to emergencies. Understanding our partners and using our intuition can be a very tricky element in our backcountry safety regime and adds more layers to an already complex cocktail of staying safe and enjoying the mountains".
-Rupert Davies, ACMG Assistant Guide (Splitboard)
Learn From The Experts
I keep learning by exploring with different avalanche experts. Everyone has a different technique or knowledge and every new day with a new expert teaches me something new. Though it's the snow that truly teaches me. After this long on skis, feel accounts for a lot.
-Lynsey Dyer, Freeskier
Diversify Your Partners
A common opinion I heard from many skiers is: "I did my ast 1, and I felt like I had a better understanding of the terms, but I felt like I couldn't ski anything safely."
I think most of us felt the same way, and I think it's really important in the first seasons of ski touring to ski with a diverse set of partners to see many different styles of group decision making, risk tolerance, and terrain choices. You'll get to see that there is no perfect equation to guarantee safety, so, by seeing variety in style you'll be able to see how people effect the decision making processes.
Along the same lines...
Make sure you hear everyone's voice during conversations about terrain and avy safety. If you're skiing with a new or inexperienced partner in an established group, they'll likely stay more silent due to their position as an outsider. So, always make sure you hear the opinions and emotions of each group member, rather than simply working off the loudest or most seasoned voice among the group.
If they are an outsider, you likely have the ability to learn from their experiences and observations. If they are newer, you'll be able to hear their reservations, or the opportunity to vocalize and inform them better on how decisions are being made.
-Reuben Krabbe, Action Sports Photographer