The Skills Guide: Four Steps for Managing Avalanche Hazards

Low, moderate, considerable, high, extreme—the avalanche hazard can be broken into fairly certain terms. But that simplicity belies a much bigger and more nuanced beast, ever changing and deeply complex, especially when paired with personal perspectives on risk and consequence.

The Skills Guide: Four Steps to Overcome Human Traps

Ian McCammon popularized the term “heuristics” in avalanche education in 2002. In his widely circulated article, “Evidence of heuristic traps in recreational avalanche accidents,” the National Outdoor Leadership School educator found that human factors—defined as familiarity, social proof, commitment and scarcity—play a significant role in avalanche accidents.

The Skills Guide: Four Steps to Know Thy Self

Benjamin Franklin popularized the saying “God helps those who help themselves” in his 18th-century Poor Richard’s Almanack. And while Franklin’s country-dwelling character may not have been much of a backcountry traveler, his philosophy holds true today in the mountains: taking care of yourself and your gear leads to safer and more fun experiences.

The Skills Guide: Four Steps Toward Enlightenment

Many snow pros spend their lifetimes researching avalanches, safety or decision making. And while traveling the backcountry isn’t the career of most individuals who are out there, everyone can learn a lesson from those investing their life’s work in promoting mountain safety: education is an ongoing process, requiring constant commitment to practice, progress and inquiry.

The Skills Guide: Four steps for Blissful Ascents

There are few high-output activities as rhythmic, tranquil and calming as skinning. Indeed, the uptrack is a major draw for many, whether it’s deep in the mountains or alongside a resort-bound groomer. But achieving uphill bliss takes practice, attention to detail and the right gear.

The Snow Pro: Steve Banks engages friends and clients in terrain conversations

Steve Banks, a Crested Butte, Colo.-based IFMGA guide and director of mountain guide operations at Irwin Guides, believes attempting to outsmart nature is a fool’s errand. And he’s learned to approach mountains and avalanches with the respect they deserve.

The Snow Pro: Sarah Carpenter is cool with being a snow-science geek

Sarah Carpenter, an AMGA guide and co-owner, guide and educator with the Victor, Idaho-based American Avalanche Institute, believes in the art of the checklist and geeking out on snow science.

The Snow Pro: Janelle Smiley talks the art of efficiency

Janelle Smiley, a Jackson, Wyo.-based Exum guide and holistic life coach, believes efficiency is the path to peak success.

The Snow Pro: Avalanche forecaster Drew Hardesty sets his intentions for success

Drew Hardesty is a long-time forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center and climbing ranger in Grand Teton National Park. Here, he muses on how setting the right goals and intentions for the day will help define safety parameters for any objective.

The Snow Pro: Donny Roth talks risk, communication and guiding around the world

AMGA guide Donny Roth, from Crested Butte, Colo., spends his time guiding throughout the Elk Mountains during winter before heading to the Southern Hemisphere to guide on Chile’s volcanoes for the other half of the year with his company, Chile Powder Adventures.

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