Big thanks to Backcountry Access for sponsoring this avalanche education content. Check out the additional plethora of avalanche safety resources on their website.
Our best to Adam Smith, who got “Maytagged” a few days ago in a large avalanche behind Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Smith’s injuries include a broken femur and being punji staked by a tree. He’s definitely lucky to be alive. It’s said he’s “not out of the woods yet” so send your healing prayers his way.
What I’m seeing in many recent avalanche accidents is that people are pushing too hard on snowpacks with too much deep instability. It’s difficult to dial it back in places like the Tetons or Utah where the pack is usually nicely bonded by this time of year, but every season is different and it sounds like this is a more a year for some standing back when it comes to taking direct ski lines down loaded avalanche paths. Another interesting thing is I’m seeing avalanche forecasts that mention “frequently skied paths” running anyway. I’m a big advocate of using heavily skied backcounty runs for safer turns, but I’m rethinking just what I mean by “heavily skied.”