Snow Safety – Proper Avalanche Precautions while Traveling in the Backcountry
By Kelsey

Posted: November 5, 2012

Snow Safety – Traveling in the Backcountry

When ever we head out into the backcountry we are always getting out for good reasons. Whether it is for hunting, fishing, skiing, or just out to bag a peak we need to think about snow safety.  The last thing that we want to have happen is for someone to get injured where there is no help nearby.

Many situations could be avoided all together if the proper precautions were taken.  Winter storms warnings are predicted toward the end of the week and could produce substantial snow in the mountains.  It only takes a small amount of snow before it can take you for the ride of your life.








Knowing some basic information is important, here are a few pointers to keep in mind when traveling in the backcountry:

  •  Slope Angle is the most important factor to consider.  As the slope increases so does the stress exerted on the bonded snow. Most avalanches are produced on 35- 40 degree slopes
  • Slope Aspect relative to wind direction and sun exposure. Wind is a major factor in transporting snow, creating wind slabs.
  • Terrain Roughness such as boulders trees and ledges act as anchors and can help hold the snow in place.
  • Weather : These factors contribute to unstable snowpack
  • Heavy amount of new snow
  • Strong Winds
  • Warm Temperatures
  • Rain

Remember the best thing about a trip is being able to tell you buddies about the great times that you had on your adventures.  Make sure you are able to tell them your stories by keeping these pointers in mind when out in the backcountry.  Also check your local avalanche center for updates on the existing conditions.  Here in Bozeman it’s the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center at

Stay safe and have fun

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