Pro Tip: Ease into the Terrain

Pro Tip: Ease into the Terrain

Plan to start each day, or each trip, with a mellow, minimally exposed warm-up run that informs you of what to expect in the area you plan to travel.

No matter how good you or the avalanche center is at anticipating the conditions, once in the terrain, you usually recognize that things are a bit different than expected. Consider the forecast fiction until you can verify otherwise.

Even with today’s technology and expertise, variation over elevation and aspect, and the changing effect from snowfall, wind, and radiation result in significant localized variability from slope to slope. Our field task is to identify the hazard on each slope and feature prior to committing to that terrain.

So, take a step-by-step approach. Start on a mellow indicator run that allows you to gather information, look around, and give yourself a chance to assess, reflect, and adjust your plan prior to delving into more committing terrain. 

Colin Zacharias is a consultant and educator in the avalanche and mountain guiding industries, and an IFMGA/ACMG mountain guide. He resides on Vancouver Island.

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