You can reduce your chances of being caught in an avalanche during winter mountain hikes by keeping the following tips in mind.
You will need
- Good weather
- Gentle slopes
- Windward ridges
- Tree-covered terrain
- Collapsible shovel
Step 1 Avoid hiking after storm Avoid hiking immediately after a storm. Most avalanches occur at the time of or shortly after a heavy snowfall.
Step 2 Avoid steep slopes Avoid slopes with pitches greater than 25 degrees.
If you must traverse a steep slope, cross at the highest point possible, one person at a time.
Step 3 Stay to the windward side of ridges Stay on the windward side of gently sloping ridges. The snow is usually thinner there.
Step 4 Avoid treeless slopes Avoid treeless slopes and gullies. The absence of trees may reflect that previous avalanches have occurred in the area.
Step 5 Watch for cracks Watch for cracks or small slabs that have sheared off.
Step 6 Listen Listen for hollow or thumping noises as you walk.
Step 7 Dig snow pits Use a collapsible shovel to dig frequent snow pits. As you check the structure of the snowpack, be on the lookout for weak layers.
Did You Know:
In 1970, an avalanche in Peru killed nearly 20,000 people.