Vacant slopes, fresh pow, and untouched winter wilderness: If you're a skier, snowboarder, snowshoer, or climber, chances are your boots may be treading on avalanche-prone territory this winter season.
Avalanches are a sobering reality. More than any other natural hazard in the backcountry, they bury dozens of outdoor recreationists every season. Last winter experienced a high number in avalanche-related deaths, in which 24 people died in the US: 8 were skiers, 7 were snowboarders, and the rest were snowshoers, climbers, and trekkers.
Learning about the mountain's snowpack habits can be be a life-saver for you and other adventure aficionados. Based on a checklist published in mountaineering Bible Freedom of the Hills, along with some anecdotal wisdom from avalanche forecaster Brandon Schwartz at Sierra Avalanche Center, we encourage our readers to follow these essential DO's and DON'Ts, keeping in mind the four main elements that cause avalanches: terrain, snowpack, weather, and people. After all, what's more fun than keeping yourself and others from getting buried alive in several feet of snow?