Winter is almost here! It’s one of my favourite times of year. I love the snow, sitting in front of a fire, warm rum drinks, snowshoeing, watching holiday movies, skating, hot chocolate, skiing, wearing toques…What’s not to love!
However, like with anything related to the snow and cold, it’s smart to be prepared. Especially if heading outdoors to play in mountainous terrain. Preparation helps you think about and ready yourself for the unexpected. The Canadian Avalanche Centre (http://www.avalanche.ca/) has a comprehensive website with sections on pre-trip planning, gear, events in your area, training courses and a library with research articles.
Below is some trip planning advice to follow when planning your next outdoor adventure. Remember, trip planning is only the first step in avalanche risk management!
• Brush up on rescue skills. Beacon practice, reviewing shoveling techniques and first aid classes are good preparation for the upcoming season.
• Check the weather forecast. Be aware that avalanche hazard can dramatically increase with changes in weather. Remember that limited visibility can make it difficult for you to assess avalanche hazard during your trip.
• Choose routes that are appropriate for the conditions. To do so, you first need to gather information on current and expected avalanche danger to determine what areas are more susceptible to avalanches than others during that particular time period.
• Make it a habit to print out the avalanche bulletin and bring it along. This way you can be sure not to forget any important details.
• Consider who is going on the trip and what their capabilities are. Things to consider include group size, individual experience, fitness levels, and purpose of the trip.
• Always run through an equipment check before departing. Ensure everyone you are traveling with knows how to use their gear.
• Before you go, leave a detailed trip plan with a responsible person
• If you live in BC or Alberta, use the online trip planning tool on the Canadian Avalanche Centre’s website: http://www.avalanche.ca/avaluator/
Have fun and remember, stay safe!