Snowboard Avalanche Safety
Don't forget your avalanche safety equipment
You don’t need to be touring the remote backcountry to be in danger of avalanche. If you’re going to leave the piste – let alone the resort – you must take measures to minimise the risk to you and your group from avalanche. That means carrying essential avalanche safety equipment including a transceiver, probe and shovel.
Unfortunately though, carrying them isn’t enough – you need to learn how to use each piece of kit properly and understand the theory of avalanches, how to identify and reduce the risk they pose.
The best way to stay out of harm’s way is to keep to marked and open pistes within resort bounds. Of course, we all know that powder and getting away from it all are fine things indeed, so if you do venture further afield then you need to be equipped and educated before you go.
At Freeze, we’ve been touring the backcountry for years. We know what makes a quality bit of avalanche safety kit and we’ve been out there using and testing it in practice. With this knowledge and experience we’ve put together a select range of avalanche safety gear for you to choose from. You’ll find transceivers, probes, shovels, airbags, snow analysis tools and mountaineering gear from some of the most trusted and respected brands in the business.
There are one or two rules you should follow to make sure that you’re ready to go…
Get the kit
There are three bits of avalanche safety equipment that are absolutely essential – the transceiver, shovel and probe.
The transceiver sends out a radio signal that your friends can use to locate you if you find yourself trapped in an avalanche. They’ll use their own transceivers to track this signal to your location, like you will if they're trapped. Don’t be fooled though, transceivers are harder to use than you might think. Make sure that you and your whole team practice and are familiar with how they work before you go. Get plenty of practice in lots of different scenarios, including multiple burials.
Your probe is an extendable pole, usually made of aluminium, that helps you to pinpoint the exact location of a buried victim. Once you’ve used your probe to identify exactly where to dig, you’ll use your lightweight shovel to dig them out. Again, it’s not as straightforward as digging a hole. There are techniques like tactical digging that you can use to dig quickly, safely and efficiently. Learn these techniques and understand them in plenty of time before you go.
Get some training
Before you go anywhere should understand the theory of snow pack, how to read the mountain, understand the conditions and have a solid grasp of avalanche safety theory. There are loads of courses out there that you can do – we recommend the Avalanche Geeks.
Get the forecast
Chances are, there’s an avalanche forecast available in your area. If there is, use it. It’ll give you a good indication of general avalanche risk levels, to help you make a better decision on whether it’s sensible to head out at all.
Once you get out there, be aware of how conditions could be different from the forecast or be changing over the course of the day. Analyse the snow pack – there are loads of tools that can help you to make a call on snow stability. Don’t leave it up to anyone else or trust 100% that they’ve got it right – always look out for new risks that might develop.
Learn where the avalanche zones will be and avoid them. Don’t loiter in risky areas, or below them, and pass them one person at a time.
If you’re unsure about anything, or you have questions about any of the avalanche safety equipment that we stock, get in touch with one of the team. We’ll be happy to help.