Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain (2nd Edition)

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The more you know about snow stability, the better your travel and rescue skills.


In Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, 3rd Edition, acclaimed snow and avalanche expert Bruce Tremper provides easy-to-understand avalanche safety tips and skills, including the latest snow research and techniques for evaluating snowpack, as well how to rescue companions in the event of an avalanche. Other topics include: How to evaluate terrain and decide whether it's safe or dangerous How avalanches work How to test snow stability How to control your exposure and lower your risk Safe travel techniques What to do if you're caught in an avalanche Search-and-rescue strategies Managing the human factors that contribute to accidents This fully revised and updated third edition of Bruce's best-selling book is organized according to the structure of American Avalanche Association classes, and all topics have been updated and reviewed by peer experts.

This edition also features a wholly new chapter in which Bruce pulls all the pieces together to create an organized, step-by-step system for making decisions off, and on, the mountain. As Rocky Mountain News proclaimed, "No one who plays in the mountain snow should leave home without having studied this book. Pages: Sales rank: , Product dimensions: 5.

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He later was director of avalanche control at Big Sky Ski Area, an avalanche forecaster for the Alaska Avalanche Center, and director of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center where he worked for almost thirty years. Customer Reviews Average Review. See All Customer Reviews.

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USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview The more you know about snow stability, the better your travel and rescue skills. Product Details About the Author. About the Author Bruce Tremper grew up skiing in the mountains of western Montana, where his father taught him the basics of avalanches at the age of ten. Average Review. Write a Review. The Mountaineers teaches skills and leads outdoor activities for all ages and levels in the Pacific Northwest. The trick to staying alive in avalanche terrain is to stay away from dangerous conditions.

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This section covers low-risk travel habits that, through the years, avalanche professionals have developed through trial and, sometimes tragic, error. Make no mistake. These techniques do not guarantee safety; they just help push the safety arrow a few notches closer to the percent mark. We will all make a wrong decision at least once in our lives, and more likely, several times. The final part of the risk equation—vulnerability—can be mitigated with proper safety equipment and good rescue skills, pushing the arrow up to Unlike the tablets of Moses, these commandments are not etched in stone: every time I publish them I add and subtract items.

Resist the herding instinct.

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The feeling of safety in numbers is hardwired into the human brain and for good reason. For millennia it has been a good defense against predatory animals and enemy tribes, but it has just the opposite effect with avalanche dragons, where distance between people is the best defense for the following reasons:.

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All they know is what they've seen in some bad movie. I've always been fascinated with computers even since grad school and I've stuck with it ever since. Winter recreation off-piste, particularly in North America and Europe, has increased steadily over the years and so has the number of deaths caused by avalanches. Welcome to Cripple Creek Backcountry! For field work, you'd ski and dig snow pits and look at avalanches.

Some ski patrols consider crossing above your partner tantamount to attempted homicide, and they deal with the infraction accordingly. For the same reason, when you rejoin your partners, you always stop below them instead of above them. That is why for years, ski patrollers and helicopter-ski guides have used what they call ski cuts as an effective technique to reduce the chances of getting caught.

I like to use the more inclusive term slope cuts , because snowboarders and snowmobilers can do them as well. The idea is that if you trigger an avalanche, you want to do it with your speed built up while heading for an island of safety, so that, in theory, if the slope does fracture, your momentum will carry you off the moving slab. Therefore, the first person across the slope should always practice slope cuts.


If you trigger an avalanche, you want to be as high as possible on the slab. But I honestly try to avoid going first if I can. Avoid testing the stability of a slope. Just tumble a refrigerator-sized-or-larger chunk of cornice down the slope first see chapter 6, Stability, for more details. Terrain almost always gives you small gifts - small test slopes - that you can jump on to see how they respond. Never pass up a test slope. It's better to find out the stability of the snowpack on small slopes that won't kill you before you get to the big ones that will.

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain

Only a fool jumps into a big slope without first gathering lots of data from other safer places. This is a standard technique at ski areas, helicopter-skiing operations, and extreme video shoots - start on gentler, safer slopes and work slowly into more dangerous terrain to reduce uncertainty to reasonable levels.

What will happen if it slides? What is the slope connected to? Always look for the downside of any decision, and always challenge assumptions and beliefs. Have you ever noticed that talking honestly with one another would eliminate the vast majority of television and movie plots?

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