Mountain Safety Collective Backcountry Conditions Report – Friday, September 9


For many, spring is the ideal season for touring, but dangers still exist, so pay attention and be aware. Photo: Arc’teryx

mountain watch | Mountain Safety Collective

This will be our last weekly backcountry recap for the season now that we have moved into consistent spring conditions of milder daytime temperatures and melt-freeze cycles.

As the tragic Fatality on the Western Faces last weekend highlighted that spring can still be a very dangerous time in the mountains and the dangers become quite variable on any given day depending on the amount of overnight frost and current weather conditions.

Timing is very important. Generally speaking, if you are too early and the surface crust is hard and icy, there will be a significant risk of slippage. If you arrive too late and the day warms up considerably, collapsing ledges and wet snow avalanches can become a concern. Major rain events will destabilize the snowpack and cornices.

Even though it is spring, severe blizzards can still pass through and there may be potential for wind slabs and the development of new cornices. Whiteouts can occur anytime valley fog lifts or low clouds lock in over the mountains and the risk of weather exposure can be extreme during rain and low temperatures.

Although the foam is high for getting out on the hottest days and skiing bigger lines, maintaining best practices in the backcountry should always be a priority on every trip:

  • – Check the alpine weather forecast for New South WalesWhere Victoria before planning your backcountry trip.
  • – Register a travel intention form with NSW NPWS Where Victoria Police.
  • – Have a contact person at your home who knows your planned route, the equipment you have with you and the expected return time.
  • – Take enough food, water, clothing and emergency shelter to survive an unexpected evening.
  • – Bring ski crampons or boots to get out of the steep and icy slopes.
  • – Take a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) – available for free rental of NPWS or a small fee of commercial service providers.
  • – Satellite communication tools such as Spot, InReach or satellite phones are recommended in remote areas where a reliable phone signal is unlikely.
  • – Be trained in first aid in remote or wilderness areas.
  • – Avoid skiing or riding alone on consequence lines.

For more information on backcountry safety, visit Mountain Safety Collective.


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