Avalanche Safety

Ride Safely in Avalanche Country


Avalanches are a serious hazard to snowmobilers in mountainous terrain. They most frequently occur on slopes of between 20 and 60 degrees, and especially between 30 and 45 degrees, usually within 24 hours of a snowfall. Rain, or a rise in temperature, will greatly increase the chances of a slide occurring since the melting snow acts as a lubricant. Avalanche danger will be high any time during or after a heavy snowfall. The following are areas to avoid: Obvious avalanche chutes; Convex slopes or bowls where this configuration creates tension; Leeward slopes that have been wind loaded with snow; Deep, snow filled gullies; and any bare slope at 30 degrees or higher after a heavy snowfall.


If you do become caught in an avalanche, try to separate yourself from your machine to avoid being crushed by it. Move your limbs in a swimming motion to stay on top of the snow. Try to make an air pocket in front of your face, and reach one hand upward towards daylight just before the snow stops moving.


If you see someone caught in an avalanche, take careful note of where the victim was last seen and start looking in that area first. Do not send anyone for help unless it is only minutes away. The victim has about 30 minutes to be rescued before their chances of survival diminish significantly. Avalanche beacons, probe poles and shovels are the best way to ensure that you are found in the quickest way possible, and are well worth the cost. Take an avalanche class to learn how to use this equipment properly.