If you’ve always wondered how to survive an avalanche, you’re in luck. Not one, but two, online publications have posted articles on that very subject, providing beginning winter adventurers and wily veterans alike with some tips that could possibly save their lives. As you can probably imagine, some of the advice offered in these two stories overlaps, but there is also something to be learned from both as well.
First up, Backpacker magazine has interviewed four professional avalanche forecasters to get the low down on how to survive such a calamity. The four individuals combine for nearly 70 years of experience in dealing with the science behind avalanches and helping to keep people alive. Each of the four men who participated in the story offers their own backcountry safety tip, as well as an essential piece of gear that they never leave home without. Typically, those pieces of gear are spoken about in more generic terms, such as a communications device or an avy pack. Backpacker fills in the gaps however, offering a specific product that you can purchase to fulfill the need as prescribed.
Our second “how to survive an avalanche story” comes courtesy of Popular Mechanics. This article goes a bit more in depth, offering up deeper advice on what you should and shouldn’t do should you find yourself running into trouble in the backcountry. It also includes a gear component, listing the important items that you should have while skiing or climbing in the backcountry in the winter. There is even a section that handles what to do should you find yourself in a “worst case scenario.”
Much of what you’ll find in these two articles will be old hat for many of you. Still, there are good nuggets of wisdom to be found in both too. For beginners, there is never enough information that can prepare you for the real thing and taking an actual avalanche course is always going to better than reading about it in an article. Still, this is a good place to start and will at least get you thinking about what you need to do should disaster strike.