Mindful Adventurer


Trevor Guernsey, Outdoor Connoisseur

     Venturing into the snowy mountains is a very rewarding endeavor; however, it can have fatal consequences. Alaska, in particular, has excellent opportunities to get into the mountains to ski, snowboard, hike, climb, and snowmobile. Therefore, having the right gear is imperative to make it home safely this season. 

     The avy (avalanche) gear that is typically carried when sending it in the mountains is beacon, probe, and shovel. A beacon is a device that transmits your location and with the flip of a button can be put in search mode. When in search, it beeps louder, the closer you get to another transmitting beacon, and this hopefully will save precious minutes in digging out a buried buddy. A probe is a quick deploy stick that is poked into avalanches in hopes the rescuer will hit a body buried in the snow. 

     Those who might be going into high risk terrain should carry an avalanche backpack. Avalanche packs are a special backpack that has an airbag that inflates when the rip cord is pulled and the idea is that the extra surface area will prevent a burial in the unfortunate case of an avalanche. Another piece of gear that is handy is a radio, but is only effective if your buddies have one. The reason one might want a radio is to communicate with your friends if someone
is lost or has an emergency.

     A huge aspect of staying safe in avalanche terrain is being educated about what causes avalanches. A massive way to stay safe is to get educated on avalanches, do some research, and most areas have avalanche workshops with forecasters that will teach you what terrain is safe versus risky. Knowing the conditions is a good way to analyze the risk you will be encountering. Most states and areas have avalanche centers that make daily reports. 

     I am an avid mountain snowmobiler and skier. I carry a beacon, probe, shovel and I will be purchasing a BCA link 2.0 radio. I personally do not have an avy bag due to the high purchase price, ($500-1000) but if money is no object they have their place. I have not yet taken an avalanche course; however, I hope to this winter. Stay safe and send it.