Mountain Skills: Skiing with Sharp Objects

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Ski crampons, boot crampons and a simple ice axe should be a part of every backcountry skier’s kit. You won’t need them everyday, but knowing when and how to use them can greatly improve security and enjoyment. Here’s how.

Mountain Skills: Jill Fredston on 20 years of education, safety and snow science

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Jill Fredston, 56, is a longtime avalanche forecaster and educator in Alaska who coauthored “Snow Sense” with her husband and fellow avalanche guru, Doug Fesler. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation on 20 years of education, safety and snow science.

Mountain Skills: Bruce Tremper on 20 years of education, safety and snow science

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Bruce Tremper, 61, has been director of the Utah Avalanche Center since 1986 and is the author of the seminal book “Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain.” Here’s an excerpt from our conversation on 20 years of education, safety and snow science.

Mountain Skills: Brian Lazar on 20 years of education, safety and snow science

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Brian Lazar, 40, is the deputy director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and the former executive director of AIARE. He is based in Boulder, Colorado. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation on 20 years of education, safety and snow science.

Mountain Skills: Manuel Genswein on 20 years of education, safety and snow science

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Manuel Genswein, 40, is a native of the Swiss Alps who lives in Meilen and has done snow-safety work in 29 countries. Using an electronic engineering background, he has also developed rescue products and techniques that have been applied around the world. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation on 20 years of education, safety and snow science.

Mountain Skills: Ilya Storm on 20 years of education, safety and snow science

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Ilya Storm, 50, is the forecast coordinator for Avalanche Canada. Storm lives in Revelstoke, B.C., just down the road from Rogers Pass. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation on 20 years of education, safety and snow science.

Mountain Skills: Set a Plan and Stick to It

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You’ve been playing it safe all day. Even though the avalanche bulletin called out “Considerable” hazard for the day (natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered are likely), you haven’t observed any signs of instability while skiing lower angled terrain in the trees. Close to where you’ve been skiing, there’s an untracked slope—and it’s only slightly […]

Mountain Skills: Why You Should Upgrade Your Avalanche Transceiver

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Imagine your best friend buried under frozen avalanche debris. Precious minutes have passed, and you are still fumbling around on the debris surface because the outdated transceiver you are searching with is unreliable and malfunctioning. According to Dale Atkins, former president of the American Avalanche Association and a 30-year avalanche professional, any transceiver more than 10 years old should be retired, even if it has hardly been used.

Mountain Skills: Exploring with Modern Navigation Tools

Exporting a route to Google Earth as a .kml file allows you to see if you’ve stayed out of hazardous areas, to plan to travel through the path of least resistance and to anticipate tricky spots.

“My map and compass never have dead batteries.” This is the most common rationale I hear for not learning and adopting new technology. Film still works in cameras and the Postal Service still gets information from place to place, but there are better ways these days. The same is true for improving the way we tour plan and navigate. Here’s how to use modern navigation tools.

Mountain Skills: Making Better Observations

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Turn to someone you trust—a more experienced friend or maybe a guide—and you’ll likely find out that they don’t dig too many pits, and they certainly never trust their life with the information gained in one snow pit. This disconnect can be confusing—after all, we learn to dig pits early in our education, but in reality most skiers don’t bother. Here’s when and how to dig to get the most information.

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