Avalanche safety is a very serious thing. With more and more people using the backcoutry it is important not only for yourself, but the people hiking behind you, that you know what you’re doing. This should help. Thanks Jeremy and Jones Snowboards.
Hopefully by now most of you have heard of the Five Red Flags. The red flags are simple visual clues that are a sign of potential avalanche danger. I keep harping on these observation techniques because I use them more then anything else to judge avalanche conditions in the backcountry.
It starts from the second I wake up. When I look out the window on a powder day I see my first red flag – new snow. If I see the trees outside sway in the wind now I have two red flags – new snow and wind transported snow. Seeing recent slide activity on the way to the mountain makes three red flags and watching shooting cracks break off of my ski tips skinning up or small slabs peel off my board as I am bootpacking makes four.
I can make most of these basic red flag observations before I even get to the trailhead. As the red flags pile up my terrain plans continue to change. It is these simple and quick observations that can be used over and over that are the most important. Digging a snow pit to analyze the snowpack is great but the reality is we seldom do it. Most of the pits I dig are when I go to a new area or I see multiple red flags stack up.
click here for the 5 red flags. Video by tgr