Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Backcountry Skiing 101: Avalanche Safety

Author: Ryan Stuart
Rating: ****
By: Erin James

This article, which is dedicated to avalanche safety, is a great read not only because it gives you tips on how to avoid being in an avalanche, but also tells you the tools you will need, the tests you can take, the signs of unstable snow, and also directs you to a site where you can apply for an avalanche safety course. “Avalanche danger lurks on just about any slope worthy of turns, broken gear can mean real trouble and with cold temperatures, short days and difficult access, injuries can become life threatening quickly.”

The article starts off with a few quick slope tests you can do to check the stability of the snow such as the “Hand Pit,” the “Pole test,” and the “Ski cut.” Each test has a clear sentence or two describing the tools you will need and how to preform each test. Secondly, the article has a list of the important things to have while skiing so that you can be completely prepared in case of an avalanche; like a beacon which helps locate the victim, a probe used to pinpoint the location of the victim, and finally a shovel which helps dig out the victim out of the avalanche. The paragraph ends with talking about how there are certain backpacks you can buy that can have has an airbag that the victim can deploy which inflates and helps the victim from going under the snow. It also talks about backpacks that have fast-access pockets for avalanche tools, or a long snorkel that can help the victim breathe under the snow. 

I liked this article because it made me feel a little bit more at ease with avalanches because they are one of my greatest fears. After watching a documentary in class where students went on a ski trip and a few students died in an avalanche, i was nervous because they did everything right and yet some students had a terrible fate and everyone felt helpless. I gave the article 4 stars because it was short and made me feel less helpless by providing information on how to prevent an avalanche and how to help someone if an avalanche ever occurred. This article would be great for any outdoor ed student learning how to x-country ski so that they can be aware of the possibility of an avalanche. 

Stuart, Ryan. 'Backcountry Skiing 101: Avalanche Safety'. Explore Magazine. N.p., 2015. Web. 13 May 2015.

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