This has been one heck of a winter. The lack of snow worldwide has not only caused depression among local powderhounds, but it has also caused dangerous conditions on the mountain that can lead to serious injuries if you’re not safe out there or if you don’t know the proper protocol on the mountain. Avalanches across the globe have already claimed numerous lives this season and destroyed an entire chairlift in France. Across The Alps there have been many wet snow avalanches and the U.S. is no exception. According to an article by PlanetSki, “In the USA the authorities say the avalanches follow high levels of snow followed by rapidly rising temperatures.” And this can been seen in Utah with temperatures in the 50s, sunny skies and melting snow.
A recent and tragic incident to a near and dear friend in Park City has ignited me to post and share these safety tips with you. Several of my roommates have fallen victim to snow injuries this season including torn MCL, broken back, sprained knees and most recently, a freak accident that claimed the right foot of my good friend. I ask that you please read these mountain safety tips to ensure you’re being safe out there this spring and to prevent any injury or loss that can happen to anyone…even experts and professionals.
Spring time is a great time to be on the mountain… warmer temperatures mean fewer layers and no more frozen hands and feet. The sun is always shining and the skies are so blue, it’s like seeing the ocean, only above. While skiing in the sun can be more fun, it also means the conditions are more dangerous. The snow freezes overnight, but then melts and gets slushy during the day, which causes more terrain to be exposed that was once hidden. Plus, the lack of early snow this past winter means terrain that normally gets covered by the white fluff is exposed more than usual; not to mention, loosening snow can lead to an avalanche. Whether you’re planning a last minute vacation or you live in a ski town, here are some tips to keep you safe this spring when shredding the mountain*:
1. Wear a Helmet! I know it might not be cool in your opinion and I know how much you love your beanies, but protecting your noggin and your beautiful mind is way more important than potential concussions, brain injuries and even death. All the professionals wear one when competing and in the Olympics, so what’s not cool about it? Not to mention that companies are now offering numerous different styles, colors and features, so you can listen to your music and color coordinate your outfit while wearing a sweet helmet to protect your head. And then you can whip out your beanie when it’s time for the apres scene.
2. Follow the Rules. You’re having a great time on the mountain, the sun is shining and you come upon the “Ski Area Boundary: Area Beyond NOT Patrolled,” or “Permanently Closed,” but you decide, what the heck… I know it’s fun to be spontaneous and I know you want to find untouched snow on the mountain. But this season, it’s just not worth it. Unpredictable terrain or a possible avalanche can lie ahead and that’s just not worth the risk of injury or your life. And hey, there’s always next season for the chance of greater snow, mountain exploration and boundless backcountry. Just be sure to wear your helmet.
3. Come Prepared. Warmer temperatures can lead to increased chances of dehydration. If you’re heading out to the mountain be sure to bring a small pack with all the essentials including enough water to keep you hydrated and your cell phone – make sure it’s charged too. Thank heavens my friend had his cell phone with him to call 911. He was thrown 20 ft. into the trees and no one could see him from the run and it was toward the end of the day, so there was less people on the mountain. Who knows how long he could have been stuck there… Other items to consider bringing are sunscreen – the sun is more powerful at higher altitudes and it reflects off the snow; An extra layer in case the temperature decreases rapidly and perhaps a light snack to keep your energy levels up.
4. Get your Weather Update. I don’t care if you watch the news or use an app on your smartphone. Just know the predicted weather forecast for the day so that you’re prepared for the best – or the worst – possible scenario. Also view the latest avalanche report for your area before heading to the backcountry.
The bottom is line to come prepared, be knowledgeable of the day’s conditions and simply to be smart out there. There are other safety tips to consider when heading to the mountain. To read up those, you can click on the links below (I have provided several sites with safety information). The point of this post, however, is to help you stay safe out there during the remainder of the 2012 Spring Season.
*The following tips are either my own personal opinion or have been borrowed from the following sources/websites. For more information or to read further, please click on the links below:
On Saturday, March 10th, 2012, a close friend to many of us in Park City had an unfortunate accident at Canyons Resort that has altered his life forever. Jeffery Denney had a freak accident when he caught an edge at high speed that flung him from the cat track into the trees. His entire right side of his body was crushed from impact, which resulted in a broken shoulder, broken pelvis, two compound leg fractures and sadly, the loss of his right foot. There was not enough healthy tissue to repair the damage done, though Canyons Mountain Patrol responded quickly to the 911 call he made from his cell phone. Jeffery is an experienced skier and has been living in Park City for almost 10 years where he has spent his days cruising the mountain he loves so dearly. Jeffery was also a competitive ski jumper, following in his father’s footsteps, and has even competed to be on the U.S. Olympic Ski Jumping Team. His love for the sport is known by all who know him personally or not. He is in great spirits about the accident and is thankful to be alive. He is confident – and so are we – that he will be back on his skis and cruising the mountain in no time, where he will make is impact in the ski world one way or another.
If you are a Park City local, or if you would like more information on how you can help Jeffery and his family, please contact me directly at email@example.com. We are asking local business for items to be used at a silent auction and a checking account has been setup in Jeffery’s name for donations. Any contribution is greatly appreciated! And again, for more information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you 🙂