High-Marking Safety

Good rules of High-marking to Play it Safe!

  • Be prepared! Take an avalanche awareness class and buy avalanche beacons, probe and shovel.
  • Check the avalanche conditions where you plan to ride.
  • Do a snow stability test on a small slope of similar aspect and angle to the one you plan to climb.
  • Practice with your beacon until you can find someone in 5 minutes, but remember it only takes 4 minutes to suffocate.
  • If snow conditions are dangerous, ride in a safe area until conditions can stabilize. Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell the others it’s not safe and that you should all ride elsewhere. It’s much more difficult to go to a buddy’s funeral.
  • Only one person at a time should be climbing. That leaves only one victim should a slide occur.
  • Everyone watching should park their sled out of danger. If an avalanche occurs, all spectators should be watching their buddy tumble down the hill rather than running for their lives. The search area is greatly narrowed if you know the last seen point of the victim.
  • If you can’t get your sled unstuck by yourself don’t try climbing the hill. The snowpack might tolerate one man and one machine, but not two.
  • Don’t go for help if your friends get buried in an avalanche. You are their best hope for survival. It will take two or more hours for help to arrive and by then it will be too late to save your friend.
  • Wearing an avalanche beacon is no guarantee that you will survive an avalanche. Many people are killed by trauma rather than suffocation.
  • The winners of any high-marking are the ones who live to climb another day. The loser will get one last ride down the mountain.