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With Great Powder, Comes Great Responsibility

Winter has arrived; first snow has fallen, skis have been waxed, and snowmobiles have been up. We’re ready for all the winter activities. While we all the love the outdoors and everything it has to offer, it’s also very important to have a healthy respect for the dangers it possesses. Now that we are well into winter, avalanche safety and knowledge has been pushed to the forefront of importance to our members while they are traversing the PNW’s wintry terrain. We encourage all of our members and friends to keep themselves safe in the snowy mountains. Sadly, 90% of deaths caused by avalanches are triggered by the victim or a member of the victim’s group. We pooled together the most beneficial tips and tricks for our members and friends to prevent such occurrences while taking advantage of our great outdoors.

One of the best ways to prevent misfortune is the proper knowledge and awareness of the area. Appropriate education is vital to staying safe in the snow. Do your research, learn how to use your gear, and make sure you’re using all the resources at your disposal. In Idaho, we’re lucky to have a large amount of means available to us. Each winter, Idaho Parks and Recreation hosts snowmobile-based avalanche awareness classes, so make sure to check out their website to find classes closest to you. Their website also offers tips and other safety facts for further information. is also a fantastic website to learn about your area. They’re also a great resource for checking the forecast of your destination. They combine data from professional forecast centers to provide you with current avalanche information, so they usually have the most up-to-date research. There are tons more online guides devoted to teaching you how to prepare, prevent, and deal with avalanches. The ideal avalanche situation is to have no avalanche situation at all, so learning how to prepare and prevent is really important while doing any activity in the winter season. While we are no experts, we compiled a short list of tips to get you started, but we still highly recommend doing your own research and taking classes to help give you the best chance. 

  1. Take a class provided by professionals if it’s an option. If not, look for online guided tutorials or videos that will demonstrate your best chance at survival. offers free safety training videos on their website, so be sure to research multiple sites.
  2. It’s not always enough to just know how to deal or use your equipment, you need to be an expert.Practice in a safe environment how to use your gear and how to conduct a search using a beacon and probe. Practice until it becomes muscle memory.
    *Beacon Training Parks are training systems designed to help people practice with their transceivers. There are locations accessible throughout the Northwest, so look for one near you for a chance to practice.
  3. Your gear could save your life, so know it well. Whatever specific activity you are participating in, whether skiing, snowmobiling, or any other recreational activity in the snow, make sure you have the sufficient equipment to be able to respond adequately in an avalanche situation.
  4. Check the forecast and daily reports. There are resources specifically designed for avalanche- heavy terrain and those who choose to traverse it. Be familiar with what to look out for and always check the forecast the day you go out.

This is a lot of information and may be overwhelming. But there is good news. Avalanches aren’t some unknown, magical entity that we know nothing about. If you know what to look for and what to avoid, you dramatically increase yor chances of survival. We understand that with winter comes all the fun activities we wait for snow to do. We love those activities too, and we participate every chance we get. We also truly value our members, friends, and family’s safety. So take your classes, do your research, and practice until you’re an expert, so you can keep taking advantage of all the winter fun with us.