10 Commandments of Safe Travel – Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, Bruce Temper (page 222-232)

10 Commandments of Safe Travel – Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, Bruce Temper (page 222-232)
February 12, 2017 Nathalie Drotar

1st Commandment: Thou Shalt Go One at a Time – and Leave Someone in a Safe Spot to Do the Rescue

  • Resist the herding instinct: if something goes wrong you always need someone left in a safe spot so they can dig the others out.
  • Groups of people weigh more than a single person and are more likely to overload buried weak layers (Space out on the way up – or across a slope.. ND.)
  • With small groups, expose only one person to the hazard at a time. With larger groups, spread out or split the group in half.
  • Stay in visual, voice or radio contact.
  • Never cross above your partner.
  • Get out of the way at the bottom. (Read more on page 224)
Go one at a time, resist the herding instinct.

Go one at a time, resist the herding instinct.

2nd Commandment: Thou Shalt Have an Escape Route Preplanned

This is why for years, ski patrollers and heli ski guides have used “ski cuts”… I like to call them “slope cuts”.. the idea is if you trigger an avalanche, you want to do it when you have your speed built up and are headed for an island of safety… (more on p.225)

3rd Commandment: Thou Shalt Never Go First

You should never test the stability of a slope using your most valuable possession – your life. Your parents have invested thousands of dollars in you and only an idiot would risk that kind of investment when there seem to be an endless supply of volunteer stability testers willing to work for free. (more on p.227)

4th Commandment: Thou Shalt Never Trust a Cornice

Never, never, never walk up to the edge of a drop-off without first checking it out from another angle to see if you’ll be standing on nothing but air. (more on p.227)

5th Commandment: Thou Shalt Be Obsessed with Consequences

What will happen if it slides? What’s below you? Above you? What is the slope connected to? (more on p.229)

Be obsessed with Consequences.. even on a blue bird day

Be obsessed with Consequences.. even on a blue bird day

6th Commandment: Thou Shalt Start Small and Work Your Way Up

Terrain almost always gives you small gifts – small test slopes – that you can jump on to see how they respond. Never pass up a test slope. (more on p.229)

7th Commandment: Thou Shalt Communicate

First, you always need to be in voice or radio contact with your partner. Second, you give clear commands: “you stay on the ridge and I’m going to do a ski cut to the other ridge. After I get there, I’ll waive that I’m ok and you come across. Got that?” (more on p.229)

8th Commandment: Thou Shalt Use a Belay Rope

You can use a it for digging a snowpit on a suspect slope, rappelling obstacles, slope cutting, kicking or sawing cornices, waiting for an explosive to go off when standing in an insecure spot or carrying out a rescue. (more on p.230)

Thunder Meadows - 2014

Thunder Meadows – 2014

9th Commandment: Thou Shalt Use the Right Equipment

Avalanche professionals have for many years required releasable bindings and forbidden straps on poles.

Besides the standard rescue equipment of a beacon, shovel and probe, an avalanche air bag should be the 1st choice to further increase survivability…I also recommend that everyone wear and Avalung™ and carry a RECCO™ chip somewhere on their body.(more on p.230)

10th Commandment: Terrain, Terrain, Terrain!

“It takes a lifetime to learn terrain- maybe two lifetimes”. Continually choose a route based on steepness, anchors, aspect with respect to the wind and sun, slope shape, and consequences. (more on p.232)

Thunder Meadows - 2014

Thunder Meadows – 2014


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