An Avalanche Safety Primer

If you haven’t checked already, I broke down the backcountry safety essentials to have in case of an avalanche in this post.

To fully inform yourself on the ins and outs of Avalanche Safety, take a class. If you’re a flatlander with no access to such teaching, Mountainzone has a good primer. They tell us:

” Avalanche statistics tell us about the nature of the beast. Most accidents involve slab avalanches. The victim, or a member of the victim’s party, usually triggers the slab that kills them. About 85% of the avalanche fatalities happen in the backcountry. Skiers and climbers make up the bulk of the numbers. However, snowmobilers and snowboarders are surpassing the old guard at an alarming rate.” 

The National Snow and Ice Data Center is also a good source for tons useful info. They offer this tip on determining is snowpack is safe: 

“There are several ways to gauge snowpack stability. Keep any eye out for any cracks shooting across the surface, or small slabs shearing off. These are signs of weakened snowpack. Also, listen for “hollow” or “whumping” noises as you walk or ski. This indicates that there is a weaker layer underneath, leaving the surface layer more prone to collapse. Careful, continuous observations throughout your trip can reveal natural clues, but other more reliable measurements, such as snow pits and shear tests, will help you predict more accurately how stable or unstable the snowpack is.”

To find the nearest Avalanche Center near you to inquire about training, check

Mountain Zone’s Avalanche Safety page is at
Tips from the Snow and Ice Data Center are at