“This isn’t a promotion for taking risk, but it is a perfect example of risk assessment so I figured it would be worth the share.”
Informative post from Jonnie Merrill about runout/exit strategies and avalanche risk assessment in general. Check out the video of Jonnie triggering an avalanche and quickly enacting a plan he had for the scenario. I appreciate his willingness to share insight gained from the incident in a effort to educate and increase avalanche safety awareness. Find Jonnie’s comments below:
Know your exit.
Backcountry users are never done honing in their skills & accidents happen to the best of em. Please give the mountains the respect they deserve, ski within your ability, use the proper safety gear, consider the worst case scenario and stay safe out there folks.
Here is a little bit of insight into my decision making and risk assessment as I decided whether or not to ski this slope:
There are a few important considerations that I try to take into account when deciding whether or not to ski a slope knowing that there is ANY potential for a slide to occur.
1: Slope size (this slope might look big, but this entire face is only a few hundred vertical feet.. definitely classified as “mini-golf” in my book).
2: Runout & exit strategy (what does the runout look like? is there consequential exposure? Is there a clean way out? Can you straightline? Is there a terrain trap of any kind?).
3: Slab depth (how deep is the layer of concern? Is it just a new snow concern? Could it step down? How big could it feasibly go?)
4: Group competence (how dialed is your group? Did you discuss the potential for snow movement? Where are they located w/ respect to the slope?)
If I can’t go through this checklist with confidence, then I’d stay off the slope.. everyone has different ability levels and tolerance for risk, but it’s definitely better do be ready than surprised..
This isn’t a promotion for taking risk, but it is a perfect example of risk assessment so I figured it would be worth the share.
P.S. The danger rating this day was moderate, with the main concern being shallow wind slabs at upper elevations. This slope had clearly built a small wind slab & thankfully it wasn’t a huge surprise when this thing popped.