Saturday, December 19, 2009

Avalanche: Five Red Flags for backcountry

Go check out Jeremy Jones website for more info but here is a quick copy/paste of his article on Five Red Flags

"The more time I spend in the mountains the more I find myself using the 5 red flags. Keep these on the top your brain every time you go out. They are not rocket science and are very easy to read.

New Snow

90% of Human triggered Avalanches happen during or with in 24 hours after a storm. I give this the utmost respect. So many times the first day out after a storm will be super sensitive. I generally do not start a full evaluation of a snow pack until 24 hours after a storm. I treat all snow pack with in 24 hours after a storm as high to extreme danger. Follow this rule and eliminate your risk of getting caught in an Avalanche by 90%.

Patience is hard when you have not made a turn for a week and it is finally clear. It is a good time to ride a resort.

Signs of Recent Avalanches

If you go out and see signs of natural avalanches this is a sign that slopes are sliding with out people getting on them. They should be taken very serious, especially if the avalanche activity has happened on a similar elevation and aspect of a slope you want to ride.

Collapsing or Cracking in the Snowpack

With collapsing you will feel or hear a whomping sound. This means a layer has broken but the slope you are on is to flat to slide. If it occurred on a steeper slope it would have resulted in a slide. With cracking you will see small shooting cracks as you approach a slope or even as you are skinning up a face. Often times collapsing or cracking will send me riding back down the boot pack or skin track.

Rapid Temperature Rise

This is not based on a certain degree of temperature. This is especially dangerous if it the first warm day in awhile or is the warmest it has been in a while.

Strong winds, Blowing and Drifting Snow

If the wind is strong enough to transport snow then the avalanche conditions can change from stable to dangerous with out any new snow."

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