Posts Tagged ‘back country’

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avalanche

January 16, 2009

This isn’t the sort of thing I planned to write about on my blog but sifting through mountain photos for this post and then news of yet another avalanche fatality are too much to hold back.

Once upon a time  I was lucky enough to live in the mountains and wow was it great!   Up until then I had never had much experience with snow and I was fortunate to make friends with people who were acutely in tune to the weather, snow pack conditions, avalanche hazards etc.   I’m even more thankful because they convinced me to sign up for avalanche training myself.  I’m so glad I did because I now know snow is not something to mess with.   The course was fun and it made for one more avalanche aware person when we did go skiing.  Ever heard the expression “all of us are smarter than one of us”?  Well, it applies to avalanche safety too.

The Canadian Avalanche Association offers short courses that focus on understanding and evaluating the risks of back country adventures for recreational and professional adventures.  They even have a free online primer.

Given how often we’ve heard about accidents in the last few winters I can’t get over how many people are so cavalier about their trips to the mountain, willing to trust their “friend” and believing that wearing a beacon and carrying a shovel are good enough.  How their “friends” can let them do this is beyond me.  In the event that someone gets buried in concrete snow, that person will be relying on the skills of everyone else to use their beacons and probes correctly and dig them out before they run out of air.  Luckily I have never had to uncover someone but that is not the time to learn how to work a device.  And as recent rescue efforts have shown, being able to evaluate the risks of another avalanche is another important skill to have.  The only thing worse than losing the guys caught in the first avalanche is losing their attempted rescuers.

There, I’ve gotten it off my chest.  Please lets not have any more avalanche fatalities this winter!

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