Are You Ready To Go Backcountry Skiing?
Are you itching for winter to arrive so you can go skiing? Deep powder days and epic backcountry adventures aren’t far away, but now is when the snowpack starts to take shape. That means that as a responsible backcountry traveler, you need to start paying attention.
Watch current conditions, tune into the weather patterns, and start noting the avalanche forecasts daily. Turn your backcountry radar back on. It’s time to become a sponge and soak in what’s going on in the mountains.
One valuable thing that you should do is bookmark your local avalanche center on your smartphone or your laptop. Get in the habit of reading the forecast every single day over your morning coffee. It will help guide your decision making and increase your understanding of the overall snowpack.
The USFS runs 14 backcountry avalanche centers that cover most popular spots, but there are also smaller websites that publish observations online. Here is a selection of both agency related, non agency related, and international avalanche centers. Bookmark them all.
- Avalanche.org – An avalanche resource provided by the American Avalanche Association that promotes avalanche safety and education.
- National Avalanche Center – The NAC supports the 14 backcountry avalanche centers operated by the USFS.
- North America
- United States
- AK – Alaska Avalanche Information Center
- AK – Anchorage Avalanche Center
- AK – Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center
- AK – Cordova Avalanche Conditions
- AK – Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center
- AK – Juneau Avalanche Advisory
- AK – Valdez Avalanche Center
- AZ – Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center
- CA – Bridgeport Avalanche Center
- CA – Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center
- CA – Mt Shasta Avalanche Center
- CA – Sierra Avalanche Center
- CO – Colorado Avalanche Information Center
- CO – Crested Butte Avalanche Center
- ID – Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center
- ID – Payette Avalanche Center
- ID – Sawtooth Avalanche Center
- MT – Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center
- MT – Missoula Avalanche Center
- MT – Flathead Avalanche Center
- NH – Mount Washington Avalanche Center
- OR – Wallowa Avalanche Center
- UT – Utah Avalanche Center
- WA – Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center
- WY – Brider-Teton Avalanche Center
- Canada – Canadian Avalanche Center
- Avalanche Forecaster’s Blog
- Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks
- Glacier National Park
- Jasper National Park
- Kananaskis Country, Alberta Parks
- Kootenay Boundary
- Little Yoho
- Lizard Range and Flathead
- North Columbia
- North Rockies
- North Shore
- Northwest Coastal
- Northwest Inland
- Sea To Sky
- South Coast Inland
- South Columbia
- South Rockies
- Vancouver Island
- Waterton Lakes National Park
- Avalanche Quebec
- United States
- Argentina – Club Andino Bariloche – Provides updates in the Bariloche area.
- Australia – SnowSenseBeta.org
- Europe – European Avalanche Warning Services (All European Links Come From The EAWS)
- Austria – ZAMG
- Czech Republic – Horskasluzba.cz
- Finland – Finnish Meteorological Institute
- France – Meteo France
- Iceland – Icelandic Met Office
- Italy – MeteoMont – Snow and Avalanche Forecast National Service
- Germany – Lawinenwarndienst-Bayern.de
- Norway – Varsom.no
- Poland – Gopr.pl
- Slovakia – Laviny.sk
- Slovenia – Meteo.eu
- Spain – Institut Cartografic i Geologic
- Switzerland – Institute For Snow and Avalanche Research
- United Kingdom – Scottish Avalanche Information Network
- India – Gulmarg Avalanche Advisory and Facebook
- Japan – Japan Avalanche Network
- New Zealand – New Zealand Avalanche Centre – Provides forecasts in 7 zones .
Hopefully this list will serve as a starting point for any backcountry adventure. Dive in to all of these links to explore more specific zones.
Besides websites, many of the avalanche centers also have mobile apps. Check out the FREE Avalanche Forecasts by Sebnarware. It has a map of most avalanche centers in the US and Canada. Then with a simple click you can read the forecast in any area. This is a fantastic resource to track snowpacks in different zones in case you’re going on the epic powder road trip that you’ve been dreaming about.
When you’re in the backcountry, it’s up to you and your partners to make your own decisions. Read the forecast, but you also need to understand what that forecast means. Check out Sarah Carpenter’s post on Backcountry Magazine – Mountain Skills: How To Really Read The Avalanche Forecast. It’s worth a read.
Take an avalanche course. There are over 300 being offered this winter from AAI and AIARE. It’s always a wise to expand your backcountry knowledge. Remember, if there’s enough snow to ski, there’s enough snow to slide.
If I missed any avalanche centers, let me know so I can add them!