Three Essential Things You Must Have in the Backcountry

Skiing in the backcountry is one of my favorite parts of our sport, but it can also be very dangerous if you do not know what you’re doing and fail to take the necessary safety percuations. If you plan on skiing in the backcountry, or outside the bounds of a resort, then make sure that you always have someone else with you. Skiing alone is very dangerous because if something happens to you, then there is no one out there to help you. Secondly, make sure that you check the avalanche conditions and try to avoid skiing in the backcountry when avy danger is high. Although checking the avalanche danger is a good starting point, this does not mean that you are completely safe from avalanches just because the avalanche danger is low. Therefore, you need to be prepared with the vital equipment in case you do encounter an avalanche while you are out in the backcountry.

Here are three essential tools that you should always have with you when skiing outside the bounds of a resort:

1.) Avalanche Beacon: An avalanche beacon is used to find someone that has been buried in the snow from an avalanche. It works like a GPS tracking system as it indicates the direction of where your buried companion is located. In order for a beacon to be effective, both people must be wearing one or else it is a useless tool. As I said earlier, it is crucial that you always ski with someone when venturing into the back country in case you do get buried in an avalanche so that they can find and dig you out.

2.) Probe: A probe is used to find the exact location of a person buried in an avalanche. The beacon can only do as much as point you in the general direction of where the person is buried. Once you believe that you are on top of them, then you use the probe by submerging it into the snow in hopes that it pokes your buried friend. After you have probed the snow and find the exact location of your friend then you can begin to dig them out.

3.) Shovel: Both the probe and beacon are useless if you do not have a shovel to dig the buried person out of the snow. Avalanche shovels are nice because they can fold up and fit into most backpacks so that you can still ski without them being a burden. The shovel is a crucial tool in quickly uncovering your buried companion and ultimately saving thier life.

Although the three tools I listed are a good start for back country safety, they are just the bare essentials. It is crucial that you have at least these three things as minimal safety percuations, but there are many other things that you can bring to help protect yourself. When heading out into the backcountry, you should try and equip your pack back with the necessary items that would allow you to survive through at least one night, even though you may not be planning to be out that long. Mother nature is unpredictable and you never know what could go wrong while skiing in the backcountry. Therefore, the better prepared you are for the unknown variables, the better chance you have of suriving. Some other good things to consider when heading into the backcountry include water, food, matches or a lighter, first-aid kits, and sleeping gear.

Overall, the backcountry is a great part of our sport and should be taken advatange of. It’s awesome to get out into areas where no one else is around but mother nature and the people that you are with. Just make sure if you do decide to venture outside the bounds of the resort, that you understand what you are doing and are equipped with the necesarry safety tools.


About jedidiahkravitz

I am a full-time student at the University of Nevada, Reno where I study my passion of entrepreneurship and management. I hope to take this passion and mix it with my knowledge of skiing in order to create a business of my own within the freestyle ski industry.

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