SPRINGTIME BACKCOUNTRY BASICS:
SPRINGTIME BACKCOUNTRY BASICS -Timing!
Get out early, follow the sun as slopes heat up and be home by early afternoon. There's great snow conditions to be had, but stay heads up in alpine areas and at upper elevations where the snowpack may be more winter-like.
New snow will be more sensitive to the sun's heating than older snow. Spring temperatures and sunshine are intense and will initially decrease the stability of any new snowfall on steeper slopes. Watch for newly formed wind slabs poorly bonded to crust layers or perched on top of lighter density snow. It is still important to dig down and see just how well the snow layers are bonded together, how wet or how weak the underlying snowpack may be.
Pay close attention to how deep the overnight freezes penetrate the snowpack. Watch for spring rain events or a dramatic warm-up, either of which lead to increased avalanche danger. Clear skies help to promote a good freeze, clouds create a greenhouse warming effect.
Safe Travel Practices:
We continue to recommend safe travel practices such as one person exposed on a slope at a time, closely watch each other, carry avalanche beacons, probes and shovels and be well practiced with them.