How Do You Play Safe? John's Tips...
Amidst the Avalanche Awareness Days happening this month, we've been connecting with each of G3's ambassadors to share some of their personal tips for playing safe in the backcountry. Here's our latest from Mt Baker based freeskier John Wells...
#1 About Time
Know your time frame, groups ability, pace, and current warming trends. Being on the wrong side of a warming face or stuck with an exhausted slog filled partner can increase your chances of being exposed to degrading slopes or worsening conditions.
#2 Bag Always Packed
Every day I go skiing I have in mind that it will be the greatest touring day ever, so I make a bomber lunch, always have water, treat my skins like my life depends on it (cause they do) and most of all be hydrated from the night before, and be a boy scout (be prepared for any and all things). Have your gear dialed in, your bindings tight and your goggles clear, the little things add up and we have all been there when our epic dreams of crushing pow two ridges away turn into a junk show of blowing skins, and your buddies binding breaking or they forgot their beacon batteries or whatever BIG small details derail the focus away from being safe and fast moving through the mountains.
#3 Be Self Confident in Your Abilities and Your Partners
Ride with more knowledgable & experienced people that you like and respect. If you are a weekend warrior you really only have 1 day to crush it and that is Sunday. Because Saturday you are going into the mountains blind, you haven't been there, you don't know what happened 1 day ago, 2, not even, 3,4,5 days and that is a lifetime in the mountains to be away. Conditions change fast and Saturday should be a warm up and scouting tour for Sunday. Saturday should be something you have had time to figure out the conditions and risks involved. Too many Saturdays I have seen careless weekenders just pinning it into areas and zones that they have no fresh beta on. Talking to a few people and asking the locals how it is up there isn't a good life plan, and surely your Mother would be disappointed that you are taking chances on other people's words in the mountains when your life is on the line.
Have fun, be safe, and be good. Don't do anything half way. Take the time to go through the processes of absorbing a slope and doing the proper protocol of digging pits, ski cutting and always practice safe spacing.
-Words by John Wells. Images by Seth Holton and John Wells.