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Prioritising Hazards

Hello Alpinists, everyday now our Austral Hemisphere Winter is drawing closer. The anticipation of winter is almost palpable in Autumn making it such an exciting season. How's your preparedness for this winter?

What hazards are out there & what ones are you preparing for? There are many similar hazards in a mountain environment regardless of the continent & it is unwise not to recognise & prepare for all of them.

Recently I completed an Avalanche Ops Level 1 Course in Canada. This is the first of the industrial/professional level courses. It was extremely informative & interesting. Because I am planning on frequenting North America it was a good thing to do. The Snowpack in Canada is far more unstable than many others, in particular a maritime type snowpack like Australia.

When dealing with hazards it is unwise to not place them heirachially according to their likelihood of occurence & doing so can increase your vulnerability to more likely risks.

Australia does experience avalanche hazard but in my 30+yrs ski touring in Australia snow instability is not as common a hazard as icey surfaces, hypothermic conditions & poor visability. The risks here are consequential falls, becomming hypothermic & getting lost. That is not saying that I don't recognise, plan & prepare for snow instability hazard.

It is true that the learning involved with avalanche is very interesting but if this hazard is not as prevalent as the hazard of poor visibilty which risks becoming lost which has many ensuing issues, or learning the art of crampon use & self arrest to prevent a fatal fall wouldn't it be more prudent to acquire these skills also or to firstly do so?

On any day we may experience various hazards. The real skill lies in being experienced enough to feel the snow under your skis, note the terrain you are in & what what the current climatic conditions are like to then rate the hazards heirachially according to the current conditions on any given day. This is not to say that there won't be exposure & vulnerability from lesser occuring hazards & that we shouldn't prepare for them, however it is possibly a better idea to prioritise your learning & skills development in accordance with hazards you are more likely to experience.

Australia offers some fantastic ski touring in a snowpack that is generally less volatile than many locations & terrain that is unglaciated. This makes it an excellent place to hone your touring skills to transition into more complex snowpacks that can be found over seas. In order to move more safely in the mountains your learning should include & not be limited to taking a BC Intro Tour, becoming a proficient navigator, taking a first aid course, learning how to move safely in steep icy conditions & learning about avalanche.

Reach out to SMBC via our CONTACTS PAGE or ONLINE BOOKING PAGE to connect with us about learning the art of uphill travel, Ski Mountaineering Intro Skills Course & how to navigate in the backcountry.

Hurry slowly Alpinists.

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