Some Essential Do's and Don'ts
Even with all the gear, knowledge and training imaginable there is always a risk of getting caught out, but there are a few things you can do to make your experience survivable, if not pleasant; number one being don’t ever ride alone. As I’ve previously pointed out, riding alone sucks, but in no way would it suck more than if you got trapped up to your neck wishing you’d waited for your buddies to get ready. No friends on a pow day anyone?
Almost as important is being aware of the terrain you’re riding, not just in terms of the risk of it sliding but what might be in your path if you get caught. It’s a total myth that aiming for trees or boulders is a safe bet, you won’t have any control of where you’re going anyway but being crushed against a tree trunk at 30mph sure won’t do you any favours; if it’s a risky day simply avoid runs that end in terrain traps such as cliffs, gullies or heavy obstacles.
It also pays to ‘listen’ to the mountain, as the man himself, Jeremy Jones points out. As well as obvious signs like warning flags and visible avalanche activity, seeing the snow crack in front of you, feeling it shift around or hearing the distinctive ‘whoomphing’ noise of air pockets collapsing underneath you are great signal for you to get the hell out of there fast.
For more information on avalanche types, take a read of our guide to slab avalanches.