The pros snow travel a well trodden path of training, mentorship, procedures, checklists, rituals, and step by tep decision making in daily group meetings. And to further push the arrow toward the top of the actuarial chart, we know that, inevitably, we will make mistakes, so we try to always follow low-risk travel rituals and regularly practice rescue proper techniques.
Pros travel training, Avalanche Survival
Safety is an important concern in all outdoor activities. No book can alert you to every hazard or anticipate the limitations of every reader. The descriptions of techniques and procedures in book are intended to provide general information. This is not a complete text on snow avalanche safety. Nothing substitutes for formal instruction, routine practice, and plenty of experience. When you follow any of the procedures described here, you assume responsibility for your own safety.
Use Staying Alive in Snow Avalanche Terrain as a general guide to further information. Under normal conditions, excursions into the backcountry require attention to traffic, road and trail conditions, snow weather, snow terrain, the capabilities of your party, and other factors. Keeping informed on current conditions and exercising common sense are the keys to a safe, enjoyable outing.
In contrast, many recreationists operate without any overall system, in a nerve racking chaos, essentially rolling the dice in avalanche path after avalanche path, betting with their lives, depending on little more than luck, which eventually runs out. Thus, many “accidents” are actually probable outcomes of bad habits. In the United States, the vast majority of avalanche fatalities are general recreationists, whereas, since 1980, less than 2 percent have been professionals. The bottom line is that for each day spent in avalanche snow terrain, more is better when it comes to avalanche knowledge, training, and experience.
Avalanche professionals and skilled amateur snow recreationists gain this advantage in several ways:
• We develop intuitive knowledge very quickly through a lot of experience in a relatively instant-feedback environment from performing daily snow avalanche mitigation using explosives. Plus we use the master-apprentice relationship to pass along acquired wisdom.
• We communicate closely with one another, so that everyone stays abreast of rapidly changing avalanche conditions, utilizing the wisdom of the group instead of relying on the more fallible decisions of individuals.
• We try to make decisions using evidence and uncertainties about evidence instead of belief, theory, or ideas.
• We practice a low-risk-travel ritual to minimize damage for those inevitable times our decisions are wrong.
• We regularly practice rescue techniques in realistic situations for the hopefully rare cases we will need it.
• We keep our avalanche education certifications up to date, so we can stay current with the latest snow avalanche science and best practices.
• We see bad things happen and know the consequences, and we see unexpected things happen, illuminating the limitations of our knowledge and technology.
In these ways, the arrow rises to near the top of the fictional actuarial chart.