I Lived To Tell About It

Caught in an avalanche

April 2019 Feature Tony Jenkins

1. Go out and take an avalanche course from a certified instructor. 

2. Buy the correct gear—avalanche air bag, transceiver, probe, shovel and some sort of communication.

3. Spend some time using your gear and practice with your riding buddies. 

4. Learn to check avalanche forecasts and ride according to the forecast. If the danger is extreme, stay home. If the danger is considerable think twice before trying to impress your friends.

5. Learn to let your ego say no. I’m at fault many a time because I seem to always want to push boundaries. In all honesty, how long can we live on luck? I was very lucky to have lived to tell and write about my experience.

6. If you don’t know the riding area pay good money for a local guide who can show you around safely and maybe teach you a thing or two. 

7. I’m glad the highmarking days are past us but with new sled designs and riding abilities, people are now riding a lot steeper terrain and using sidehills to get into new areas. Make sure to keep one sled on a sidehill at a time and always use the riding style of “bridges and islands.” That means as one guy crosses a danger zone have one guy stop, watch the rider ride through the zone to a safe area and then turn around and watch your buddy cross the danger zone. 

8. Communication. I can't stress how important it is to have some sort of radio communication with your riding group. You never know when someone is involved in a incident and by the time you realize it, it’s too late. 

9. You might own all the correct avalanche equipment but it’s worth nothing if you don’t check it each ride. 

10. Be prepared for changing conditions throughout the day of your ride, especially when it gets warmer. When you start seeing snow falling out of the trees and water dripping from pine needles expect the conditions to worsen. If you have a storm move in with fierce winds, watch for storm slabs.

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