If you're thinking about popping over the back of the ski resort or the bowl that is out of bounds this winter, think carefully about your decision.
Do you have the right gear? Do you have the right training? Do you know the backcountry avalanche forecast? Backcountry terrain is neither patrolled nor controlled by professionals, so if you're planning on going "out back to slay that sick sick pow-pow", it's important to be well trained in avalanche safety-and-search and rescue techniques.
Some sobering statistics if you are involved in an avalanche: If a victim can be rescued within 18 minutes, the survival rate is greater than 91 per cent. The survival rate drops to 34 per cent if they're buried for 19-35 minutes.
Here are some basics about back country safety:
Get the right gear
Carry the required backcountry safety gear and know how to use it. Practise regularly — you will never forgive yourself if you are not prepared. Don't be the biggest dick with the flashest gear.
Consider carrying the following backcountry gear on top of transceiver, probe, and shovel:
• First aid kit and gear-repair kit
• Personal locator beacon or satellite phone
• Navigation kit — Maps, GPS and handy apps on your phone like iHikeGPS, ViewRanger and MapToaster
• Shelter — A tarp, insulated jacket and extra clothing.
Get the right training
Take an avalanche safety course or backcountry ski/snowboard beginner's course.
• Learn how terrain choices and changing weather affect your safety. More to the point how to choose the best and safest lines.
• How to travel safely in avalanche terrain.
• How to rescue one or more buried people with your fancy, new flash-as gear.
• How your personal decisions effect the safety of the group.
• Learn how to provide first aid to an injured member of your party.
Get the weather and avalanche forecast
First thing, before you head out the door, check the local avalanche forecast for your area.
The website avalanche.net.nz will become your daily routine.
Get the picture on the day
• Research your terrain before you head out.
• Talk to the professionals (ski patrol).
• Avoid terrain that has potential avalanche conditions.
• Find out about any recent avalanches.
• Make sure there is good communication within your group on the day.
• Let someone know where you are planning to be for the day. Get out ofharm's way
• Limit your group's exposure to backcountry dangers and high-risk avalanche terrain.
• Place only one person on the slope at a time. The bigger the spacing the less weight on the slope. Don't help a mate who is stuck or has lost a ski, this adds more load on the slope in steep avalanche terrain.
• Don't enter a closed area to access the backcountry - it is closed forareason! A ski patroller has the right to kick you up the backside if you endanger their lives and the general public.
• Only stop in areas that are safe from the avalanche hazard.
• Be aware of your surroundings; watch out for other groups in the area.
Have a great winter!
Consider the safest and best option of heliskiing, where you don't need to think about all the terrain options, the snow stability and the exercise, all you need to think about is lunch and how to send pictures of yourself having the best day ever to your mates in the office.
Get professionally guided into untouched snow.