Mountain Skills: Managing larger groups

The slinky—it’s not just a childhood toy; it’s also a ski-group phenomenon. It occurs when the last person in a large group finally arrives at the break spot, only to see the leaders of the group start uphill again. Traveling in larger groups can cause a variety of challenges and logistical problems, not just related to the slinky, too— think pacing, communication and differing goals for the day.

Mountain Skills: The dos and don’ts of quick pits

Balancing the need to assess snow stability on the skintrack while also making sure your partners don’t freeze can be a difficult task at times. To be safe in the mountains, you need to gather a lot of information on a variety of aspects and elevations, but spending an hour in a snow hole is less than appealing, especially in inclement weather.

Mountain Skills: Professional vs. Recreational Avalanche Training…what’s in it for me?

This winter, avalanche education in the U.S. will be evolving. The old system of Level 1, 2, 3 will be replaced with two options: a recreational track and one geared toward professionals. The goal of the split is to deliver better, more focused courses to each user group. So how do you know which one’s for you? Here’s the breakdown.

Mountain Skills: Use a checklist to facilitate better decisions

If you’ve taken an avalanche class recently, you may have heard the quote, “The world of snow and avalanches is a wicked learning environment.”

Mountain Skills: Phone Frenzy

Given the range of possibilities cells phones offer, what are the best and safest ways to use them when headed out of bounds?

Mountain Skills: Digging doesn’t need to be the pits

Analyzing snowpack starts before you leave for a tour and only ends when you’re safely back home. After reading the morning’s forecast, digging a snow pit in the field can better enhance your understanding of they day’s snow stability. But without a process for gathering and implementing upon the information pits present, digging and analyzing a pit’s layers can be tedious. Here are a few tips to streamline the process, so you can gather information in a timely and informative manner.

Mountain Skills: The Importance of Higher Ed

It’s no secret that even good things go stale—from relationships to that loaf of bread you forgot about in your cupboard. The same applies to our understanding of avalanches: how we analyze and approach them has changed dramatically over time.

Mountain Skills: Understanding The Extended Column Test

I like to approach backcountry skiing like I approach a science experiment: I take time to plan before doing the experiment; I develop a hypothesis about what is going to happen when I perform my experiment; I conduct the experiment. And then I reflect on my experiment and learn from it.

Mountain Skills: Why good ski partners matter

My good friend Jamie Week describes the importance of communication in the backcountry like this: “Inbounds at the ski area, skiing and riding is all about me. It’s about finding the best lines and the best snow. Once you leave the resort and enter the backcountry, it’s a team sport. It’s no longer about me, me, me. It’s about teamwork and team safety.”

Mountain Skills: How to really read the avalanche forecast

Avalanche forecast centers do a great job informing backcountry travelers about current conditions, weather patterns and the avalanche danger. In fact, when you start digging, there is a huge amount of information on an avalanche forecast center’s website. But to get the most out of the forecast and prioritize information, don’t just stop at the danger rating—use the forecast center’s site as a resource regarding past, current and future conditions.

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