What to do During an Avalanche

Avalanches can be breathtaking, mystifying and downright terrifying depending on what side of the avalanche you happen to find yourself on. For most people, their only encounter with an avalanche will be sitting at home watching a nature channel and being awed by mother nature’s wrath, but let’s say your experience with an avalanche happens to come by first-hand experience. Will you be prepared to protect yourself or even have the instinct to know what to do when thousands of pounds of snow come barreling at you faster than a freight train.  If you are like most people, you’re going to panic without the proper training and resources. 

snow avalanche

So what do you do during an avalanche? First, it’s helpful to be aware of the signs of a potential avalanche.  It’s important that you watch for cracks in the snow around your feet or skis when hiking or skiing in the mountains. You may hear a “whumping’ sound, which can indicate the settling of snow or the possibility of a slab releasing.  If you witness these things, it’s important to be on heightened alert. Now let’s say you find yourself in the middle of an avalanche, the best thing you can do is first try and run perpendicular to the avalanche so you don’t find yourself directly in the heart of it, but if that isn’t possible, and you are in the middle of it, your best bet is to grab ahold of something solid. Avalanches commonly kill you through trauma such as broken bones, internal bleeding, asphyxiation, or being thrown off cliffs.  Your biggest step towards survival will be to grab onto anything solid, such as trees, rocks, etc., to avoid being swept away.   

Perhaps there’s nothing to grab ahold of or you are incapable of grabbing something. If that is the case, and you start moving downward with the avalanche, stay on the surface of the snow by using a swimming motion and try to move yourself to the side of the avalanche.  This requires you to utilize all your muscles and if it feels impossible, it is even recommended to thrash around violently just to keep above the snow.  

If you feel yourself getting pulled under it’s essential to lift one arm up high and reach for the sky. This will give search and rescue the ability to locate you under the piling snow. Another great tool to bring anytime you’re in the mountains is an avalanche beacon, as it can send out signals to others with your exact location.  This is crucial as that snow piles up stronger than a Stronghold Fence (don’t believe me just click here) and you want to be located as soon as possible.   

If you have succumbed to the avalanche and you are now buried, your arm is raised high to the sky, the most important thing you can do now is to remain calm and do not panic. What is most important now is to create breathing room by digging out space around you as best as you can. Safe travels. 

Chairlift Tips for Beginners

Over the years, I have spoken many beginners are nervous about using the chairlift. There is no reason to be anxious about it when you are prepared. We will discuss some of the tips available to help you get started on a chairlift below.

First, remove your ski poles from your wrists. Hole the poles close together so they are easy to let go of if they get caught on something. It can also keep them from poking nearby people. You can hold the poles between your legs or beside your legs, whichever is more comfortable for you.

Before dismounting the chairlift, ensure your skis or snowboard is entangled up with others. Otherwise, it may be difficult to dismount the chairlift at the right time.

When sitting on the chairlift, try to evenly distribute the weight. If two of you are on the list, send an equal distance from the middle to balance the weight. Otherwise, the chair will be more likely to bounce and swing as you get off the chairlift. On the same point, be gentle when getting off the chairlift so it doesn’t swing aggressively, making it more challenging for others around him.

Remember, the things don’t always go as planned, and that is okay. If you make a mistake, see it as a learning experience.

Once you are off the chairlift, gain control as soon as you can. Stop at the top of the hill and get your bearings. If you are unable to stop, and begin heading towards the person or tree, try your best not to focus on the object or person. Instead, it is best to search for a gap focus on so you will be more likely to steer that way.

If you do find yourself having issues on the chairlift for on the slopes, take the time to apologize. Everyone has a bad day on the slopes. What is important is that it will take responsibility for their mistakes. Doing so can make everyone’s day much better.

Common Sense Rules for the Slopes

Over the past couple articles, we have been discussing ways to stay safe while on the ski slopes. We will continue learning more about the rules of the Alpine Responsibility Code below, so keep reading.

It is important when on the slopes to prevent runaway equipment using proper devices. Though most ski resorts are lax with this rule, some will require snowboarders to wear leashes. Remember, that skis have brakes, and it is important to ensure they are working properly. Always be conscious of where your equipment is and how it is placed. Snowboards should be placed with their bindings down to the snow and laying horizontal to the mountain.

Always read in a day any posted warnings and signs. These are posted for your safety. When you don’t follow the signs, you may end up on a double black trail after recently graduating from the blue run. Every day, the ski patrol goes through a lot of effort to update the mountain conditions. The warning signs they post are for your safety.

Though it should go without saying, always stay off closed trails. They are closed for a reason, and ski patrol doesn’t want to have to come rescue you because you are a rule breaker.

Another point that should be common sense is to never use lifts or the terrain if you have impaired ability of using drugs or alcohol. I am all about having a drink or two here and there, but when you are intoxicated, you have reduced coordination and an increased chance of bad judgment. When you go down the mountain impaired, chances are, the mountain will win.

The last thing to consider in staying safe on the slopes is to have enough knowledge, ability, physical dexterity to load and unload the lifts. If you are uncertain of your abilities, talk with a list attendant before trying to use the lift. We will cover more information about riding a lift in our next article.

Now that we have covered all the rules of the Alpine Responsibility Code, you should be ready to hit the slopes safely. If you see anyone acting unsafely on the slopes, you should immediately alert ski patrol before someone gets hurt.

Learning Rules of Right-of-Way

In our last article, we began covering the rules from the Alpine Responsibility Code. We learned that you must have control and how everyone ahead of you has the right-of-way. Today, we will continue our journey of learning safety on the slopes.

As you are skiing or snowboarding, never stop in an area where you are not visible from above or where you are obstructing a trail. Though you may have the right-of-way, it can be difficult for those coming down the mountain to stop in time. If you look up the mountain and are unable to see the run above you, those coming down the slopes are unable to see you as well. That can be a recipe for disaster.

Speaking of looking up the hill, never merge onto a trail or start downhill up to you look uphill. Yield to anyone already coming your way. Following this simple backflow testing rule can help you avoid many collisions.

If you find yourself in an accident or collision on the slopes, it is imperative to stay on the scene until the ski patrol arrives so you can identify yourself. Not only is this the right thing to do, but the ski patrol may need to investigate the incident. Once they know what happened, they can take the appropriate safety measures to reduce the risk of re-occurrence. There are many potential dangers on the slopes, whether you are skiing or snowboarding. Staying on the scene in helping the ski patrol with their investigation can help others stay safe as they enjoy the slopes. Understanding the right-of-way on a ski slope can save you and others a lot of frustration and potential injuries. Many of these rules are considered commonsense by most people, but my time on the slopes shows that a great number of people do not understand the simple concepts. Hopefully, they will find this site so they can learn them before I meet them on the slopes somewhere.

Adventures at a New Ski Resort

This past ski season, I tried out a newly opened ski resort. I won’t mention the name of the resort, but there was a lot of frenzy on the first day of their season. In fact, there was so much frenzy that I could have easily been hurt. Of course, it doesn’t take much to get hurt on the slopes. A simple fall into an awkward position can break a bone.

Unfortunately, many people go to the slopes without knowing the universal rules that are applicable to everyone. These rules are known as the Alpine Responsibility Code. In fact, the rules are endorsed on most ski slopes around the world with only a few variations. Before idea of the rules this to use common sense, as well as personal awareness, to reduce the risks on the slopes.

Following these rules is a very important element of yourself and others safe. Because of this, we will be covering the ARC over the next few articles.

The first rule went on the slopes is always stay in control. It is imperative that you can stop when needed and avoid other objects and people. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about building your confidence and progressing on the slopes, but don’t overestimate your own ability. As a beginner, take your time to learn to stop and gain control. It’s understandable to see people on the green slopes, just learning how to ski, a bit out of control. That’s what those slopes are for. Just don’t get ahead of yourself and move on to harder courses without building up to it first.

The next rule we will cover today is giving others the head of you the right-of-way. If you are behind them on the slopes, it’s your responsibility to avoid them. It doesn’t matter what they may be doing front of you, whether they are blocking your path or in a weird line, they are still the one with the right-of-way. If you get a chance, you can pass them, but it is your responsibility to make sure you can pass safely.

Once you understand these two rules, you are on your way towards skiing and snowboarding more safely. We will continue to cover the Alpine Responsibility Code in our next article, so come back soon.

Protecting Yourself from Sunburn in the Snow

When you are out on the slopes skiing or snowboarding in the middle of winter, one of the last things you think about is getting sunburned. Besides, you are wearing your ski gear after all. The dead of winter is a time most people forget to consider the sun protection. Unfortunately, many people must deal with getting sunburned before they consider protecting themselves in the winter.

Studies show that your sun exposure during the winter on the slopes is actually higher than when you are on the beach because of the higher altitudes and thinner atmosphere. Also, snow is highly reflective, giving you double exposure.

Sun exposure itself, of course, is a good thing for our health. Protecting your skin from too much sun is also a good idea for your health. Below are ways to protect your skin if you plan to spend a day out on the mountain.

A key way to protect yourself from sun exposure is through hydration. That doesn’t mean beer, sodas, coffee, or other flavorful beverages. I often find myself dehydrated throughout the day while on the slopes. No one wants to stop for potty breaks, and you just don’t feel as thirsty went on the mountain. As your body becomes dehydrated, though, you lose water from your skin quickly as your blood vessels dilate causing sunburn. Being dehydrated can also affect your endurance and performance, so make sure you take water up the mountain.

An obvious way to protect yourself from sunburn is by using sunscreen. There are many options to consider when searching for an optimal sunscreen, so do your research. I have tried many different brands of sunscreen. My favorites tend to be the ones that are non-greasy and easily applied. Most ski lodges will have an assortment of sunscreens that have been tried and true on the mountains.

Keeping yourself from being sunburned is rather simple when you follow the two above suggestions. Stay hydrated throughout the day on the mountain and always remember to bring your sunscreen. Doing so can help you keep your skin healthy and enjoy more time up on the mountain.

Improving Your Snowboarding: Part 3

Now that you know the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and seeing all slopes is white, we can discuss one of the most important parts of improving your snowboarding. What is the final and most important tip? Well, keep reading to find out.

Our final tip in snowboarding is to never settle. Everyone who snowboards that eventually becomes complacent. Complacency comes to everyone including the pros. Even instructors must constantly take lessons to improve their writing, helping to focus on tiny movements and fine-tuned snowboarding.

If you are super focused on your technique, you may believe you have everything figured out. Thing is, if you take a lesson from a qualified instructor, they have the training to analyze your performance so you can strengthen the elements of your writing and start breaking any bad habits. Many snowboarders find they have a small movement that makes a big difference in their rides, and simply changing the bad habit greatly improves their ride.

Unfortunately, many people have a negative idea of snowboarding lesson, especially if you are a novice or professional. What you must remember, though, is that a lesson may help you break through a barrier or pull you out of a plateau, giving you the confidence you need to ride any terrain.

Simply taking one lesson every season can help you progress as a snowboarder. It can get you back on track and open more the mountain for you to enjoy so you can tackle new terrain.

Whether you are a beginner or the best snowboarder on the mountain, lessons can help to improve your game while on the slopes. Take all the tips that we have covered in the past three articles heart so you can improve your snowboarding abilities. Doing so can help you meet your goals faster and ride anywhere, anytime without limits.

Improving Your Snowboarding: Part 2

In our last article, we discussed the importance of a positive attitude and keeping your toes and feet relaxed while snowboarding. We will continue to discuss ways to improve your snowboarding today.

A great way to improve your snowboarding skills is to get out of your comfort zone on terrain you are already comfortable with. It is easy for us to simply stay in our own comfortable bubble. We enjoy just doing what we know typically, but if you are wanting to try out the big slopes and risky tricks, it is time to get out of your comfort zone while on a slope you are comfortable with. For example, if your goal is to go down the black diamond while your friends look on in awe, you can improve your chances of success by trying out new maneuvers on the comfortable slopes before going to bigger terrains. For example, try perfecting your short fast turns while on the green slope before trying them out on the blue or black slopes. It’s not only safer to practice those moves on easier slopes, but you will learn the concepts before moving on.

The next tip we will discuss today is to view all slopes as white. We all look at the colored shapes at the top of the runs to determine what we can and cannot do. Well, every slope is white. Of course, the slopes are graded to help keep you safe, but perhaps those grades are holding you back. When you go on a new run, keep your mind set neutral and simply use the techniques you know to get down the slope. Doing so will allow you to write more freely without feeling anxious about the color of the slope.

Once you are out of your comfort zone and viewing all slopes as white, you are ready to overcome the largest hurdle in snowboarding that we will discuss in the next article. Make sure you check back in so you can be the best snowboarder you can be.

Improving Your Snowboarding: Part 1

Regardless of how long you have been riding, everyone needs to improve their snowboarding in some way. In the next few articles, we’re going to cover five tips to help you learn more about snowboarding. These tips will help you change your mindset while challenging you to progress in your riding, giving you an advantage.

The first tip is to always be positive. This is best done with a smile. A positive mental attitude will improve any athlete’s performance, including a snowboarder. Being positive can help you as you ride into unchartered territory or while you are learning a new skill. Besides, why would you not be happy while out in the fresh mountain air? If you meet a goal, smile. It’ll help your whole experience be more enjoyable. Even if you fall, smiled and get back up. When you are negative on the slopes, your muscles will tighten up as you mentally take yourself out of the game. So have fun and flash those pearly whites while on the mountain.

The second tip is to relax your feet and toes. When you become nervous, you tend to tighten your muscles. Doing so not only inhibits your mental game, but your performance physically as well. Anytime you learn something new, it can be a little scary. You may be tempted to use your toes to hold on inside of your boots. Doing so can cause tension and tightness in your leg muscles and quickly lead to tired legs and lazy movements. As you relax your feet and let your toes spread out, you will be able to relax and react better to the snow conditions. If you find yourself tensing up on the slopes, try breathing through it. As your body pumps oxygen through your muscles, your entire body will begin to relax, making you more mobile.

In the next article, we will discuss more ways to help you improve your snowboarding, so come back soon.