By the time you reach the foot of a key slope during your journey, you should be well aware of the avalanche hazard – through careful planning and from making observations throughout the day. If you are not, you will be at a huge disadvantage, without the knowledge and understanding to make good decisions. At key places, consider your own condition. Are you fatigued? How is your party? Is the weather poor? Be open to changing your plan.

Attention! Advice  

Poor visibility?Considerably limits your ability to make safe route choices and may expose you to avalanche hazard.

If you cannot see slope shapes and you believe that slopes are unstable, or if you are uncertain, consider alternative plans.


Avalanche activity or unstable snow?Seeing avalanche activity indicates an unstable snowpack.

Note the aspect where the avalanche took place. If you have observed signs of instability, avoid slopes of similar aspect.


Windy?Snow moving around at your feet or on ridges etc indicates unstable snow is accumulating.

Snowpack instabilities should be expected - note aspects where new snow is accumulating and select an alternative.


Windy, drifting snow, snowing?Is snow continuing to accumulate?

Snow pack instabilities should be expected, especially high up in gullies and at the tops of slopes. Snow accumulating at rates greater than 2cm/hr is critical for increased instability and avalanches.


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Uncertain?You think there may be instabilities and/or the weather is poor.

Make decisions collectively and only proceed when everyone is confident. Avoid pressing on because you think others want to continue. Are you fatigued? Is the weather intimidating? Be open to changing your plan.


Other people?If other people are around, does that make it ok?

Avalanches can occur on a slope even if tracks or people are already present. Weaknesses in the snowpack may be confined to small areas but once triggered can effect the whole slope.


Party ManagementAvoid grouping together on a slope.

Keeping a good distance apart is always good practice when travelling and reduces exposure to avalanche involvement. Think about where to stop.


Does it feel right?

If you are feeling uncertain there may be a good reason.


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Uncertain?Not sure about your location or your options.

Consider consequences of an avalanche small or large. Are you in narrow valleys, below or above cliffs and boulders? These can all worsen the avalanche effect. Avoid these places if you are uncertain or instability is present. Choose alternative route.


Convex (bulging) slopes?Avalanches will release from these locations if instabilities are present.

Avoid convexities, these are places where the snowpack is under greatest stress, activity here may trigger an avalanche.


Slope stability?

It is not always possible to be certain about the stability of a slope. If you are concerned, choose safer route options, consider alternatives or retreat. Remember you can always come back another day.


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