Skiers activities that often lead them to backcountry locations with limited services. Monday morning (12/28) Forest Service avalanche experts warned of possible avalanche activity when visiting these areas. They recommend doing some avalanche testing before using steep slopes.

“We have a block of harder snow over a section of weak sugary facets of the ground, so we have something over nothing,” said Dave Zinn, avalanche expert. “This is the recipe for an avalanche, all you need now is a steep slope and a trigger.”

Triggers can be caused either by nature — rain, snow, sun, wind — or by human activity.

“The danger is moderate, but it’s sort of that scary moderate because human triggered avalanches remain possible,” said Zinn. “If we trigger them, they could be large — and definitely big enough to injure, bury or kill an individual.”

“Really watch out for those signs of instability — like shooting cracks. Do some avalanche testing – dig stability tests, do an extended column test, see if you get stable results,” said Zinn. “And if you don’t see (stable results), find a different slope.”

Previous reports from 2017 to 2019 showed six-of-ten accidents occurred in January and February. Five of which, resulted in a death. It is not listed what caused these avalanches were deaths occurred but leads experts to continue to urge people to test they go.

Avalanche Testing - forest service
Testing the snow

NBC Montana

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