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CBU Newsletter Nov,
Eric Knoff

The day dawns cold and clear with a foot of fresh snow and the promise of incredible powder riding. At the trailhead, the surrounding landscape sparkles like a field of diamonds and the anticipation of a magical day in the mountains builds.

Sled covers are hastily removed and the machines are fired up - the smell of exhaust fills the air. Feeling confident about preparations, members of the group do a quick gear check and then hop on their machines, pinning their throttles towards the backcountry and a day of powder riding.

Eric Knoff

Blue ice clings to canyon walls, creating a colorful contrast to the steep rock faces of Hyalite Canyon. Climbers inch their way up the frozen surface with axes and crampons, many having traveled from around the world to experience this world class venue.

Doug Chabot

We just wrapped up our 23rd season at the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, one of the best winters ever: lots of snow, many days of good stability, and no fatalities. It has been nine years we’ve had this combination.

The Avalanche Review,
Doug Chabot

Riding in the sidecountry is fun, and it is marketable. Google ‘sidecountry’ and you get 438,000 search results. As more people recreate in the sidecountry, ski areas promote it, equipment manufacturers capitalize on it, riders benefit through new technology and increased availability, the media eats it up, more people want the experience, and WHAM!

MSA,
Eric Knoff

Since 1997 forty one snowmobilers have died in avalanches in Montana, the most of any state in the nation.  Twenty of these fatalities occurred in the Gallatin National Forest of southwest Montana, and thirteen occurred during HIGH avalanche danger.  

MSA,
Eric Knoff

Slope angle should be one of the first things that comes to mind when traveling in the backcountry. It is a primary factor in every avalanche.  Avalanches happen when four ingredients are present:  a slab, a weak layer, a trigger and a slope angle steep enough to slide, generally between 25-45 degrees.  Not all slopes are steep enough to avalanche and some are too steep to regularly form slabs.  Recognizing what slopes are safe to ride and what slopes are prone to avalanching is an important part of making safe backcountry decisions. 

Carve,
Doug Chabot

The newest piece of avalanche safety gear to hit the market in the U.S. is the avalanche airbag. These backpacks have a canister of compressed gas that immediately inflates a large balloon when the emergency handle is pulled.

The Avalanche Review,
Doug Chabot

Statements of “warming” triggered dry snow avalanches have become common in the last few years. The public mentions it frequently and it is increasingly referred to in avalanche advisories and classes. The evidence presented includes increased creep rates, wild swings in net solar radiation and avalanche activity occurring naturally and with human triggers due to warming temperatures. These statements occur with certainty and regularity but with scant data.

MSA,
Eric Knoff

Countless individual ice crystals make up a snowpack. From the moment flakes fall from the sky to the spring melt, snow never stops changing. This change is known as snow metamorphism.

Carve,
Doug Chabot

Imagine this terrifying scenario:  You are at the top of a slope that just avalanched and buried three of your friends. Only you can save them.  Their survival is up to you alone and the odds are very low because time is not on your side. A person has an 80% chance of surviving if dug up in 10 minutes. This rapidly falls to 20% at 30 minutes. Can you get all three to the surface in 15 minutes?