Seven Must-Learn Mountaineering Skills Before Attempting Your First Summit

4. Avalanche Safety


Depending on the season and where you plan to climb, the risk of encountering (or triggering) an avalanche in the high mountains can, unfortunately, be something of an ever-present nightmare. Even if you limit your climbing to the summer season, in most high ranges there is sure to be some degree of snow cover and with it, in many cases, the threat of an unstable or at least sketchy snowpack.

Before tackling this sort of terrain, be sure to know when and where avalanches are most likely to occur (usually on slopes from 25-45 degrees and following abrupt changes in weather) and learn how to avoid them. Learning avalanche assessment techniques (such as digging a snow pit to check layering and stability) and rescue skills (using a probe or transceiver to locate buried team members) should be amongst the first of your considerations before trying to summit any mountain where there is a significant risk of avalanches.

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