Clues to look for, and remember, when out in the backcountry

anarchy in the backcountry
Look for obvious signs before electing to ski a slope that could avalanche. PHOTO: Graham Robertson

Between F.A.C.E.T.S. and ALPTRUTH, skiers have two helpful acronyms to use when evaluating whether or not a slope is safe to ski. When exercising a mental checklist, ask yourself these questions about the conditions to determine your safety.

A: Avalanche. Has there been one in the last 48 hours?
L: Loading. By snow, wind, or rain in the last 48 hours?
P: Path. Is there a noticeable and obvious avalanche path for travel and/or slide?
T: Terrain Trap. Gullies, trees, cliffs or other features that increase severity of being caught?
R: Rating. What’s the rating of today’s avalanche report?
U: Unstable snow. Have you heard/seen cracking, collapsing, whoomping, or other clear signs of instability?
TH: THaw instability. Has there been recent warming of the snow surface due to sun, wind, rain, or air temperature?

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