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Staying safe and precautionary during an avalanche

As the snow falls, it’s the perfect time to hit the powder. With snowfall on the slopes, skiers and snow mobilers are taking to the mountains.

With recent avalanches near the Utah-Idaho border, are you prepared to be face-to-face with one?

A group of five went to up to the Monte Cristo area on Tuesday. Four of them went up to the run out zone, where moments later an avalanche broke out. All four were buried. Luckily, they all survived because they took the right precaution before they went up. If they were not prepared with the right tools, this might have not been the case.

“First thing,” Dean Lords, Kelly Canyon Ski Patrol, said. “Any back country traveler should do is check the local advisory.”

Websites like,, and have avalanche advisories they update everyday.

Something else you might want to think about before you do any back country traveling is become educated in avalanches and take courses to better prepare you.

“There are a number course providers in the area,” Lords said. “Jackson Hole and Driggs have places provide avalanche courses.”

Even here in Idaho Falls we have classes to educate the public on avalanche pre-caution.

Idaho Parks and Recreation is holding a avalanche awareness clinic in February 2018 to familiarize the public with hazard recognition and techniques for safe travel in unsafe terrain.

But knowing just want to expect and what to do in a worst case disaster can you only help you so much. You need proper equipment before you travel to any avalanche terrain.

“You should at least have a beacon, a probe and a shovel,” Bryan Warren of Action Motor Sports said. “Those are the minimum you need to have when you ride.”

The beacon is needed for when an avalanche strikes and you need to locate someone. It tells how many meters away you are and which direction you need to be to searching. The probe is used to to stick in the snow to find your missing friend. And once you’ve hit the spot, you use the shovel to go downhill and dig them out.

Never go back road skiing alone, but if you ever find yourself traveling alone, always let someone know your exact whereabouts.

If you’re someone that is by themselves, you should bring an avalanche pack that will makes rise to the surface of the snow.

Another precaution to take is to always make sure your equipment is ready to go and that it is charged or has fresh batteries.

Safety experts say it’s always better to check before you leave town rather than getting stuck in a situation later.

“If you’re going to buy a snow mobile you need to buy the proper safety equipment to go with it and that’s what these are,” Warren said. “Just something to save your life.”

So this winter, before you head up to shred some powder, make sure you take the appropriate precautions and gear to have a safe outdoor experience.

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