Action Asia - - WINTER GEAR -

For those happy to al­ways play on the piste, safety is mostly about keep­ing an eye out for other skiers or rid­ers. Know­ing about weather and snow con­di­tions is less than es­sen­tial, some­thing most are con­tent to let their re­sort worry about when they de­cide which runs to close when it gets windy. But if your aim is tour­ing in the back­coun­try, then things change. Even if you are be­ing guided by a suit­ably ex­pe­ri­enced op­er­a­tor, you need to take re­spon­si­bil­ity, to be well in­formed on the weather and the con­di­tions on the moun­tain you are to ski. That means un­der­stand­ing the risk fac­tors that are the pre­lude to an avalanche, some­thing that can be learnt on cour­ses run at many of the big­ger re­sorts. Gear-wise too, you need to step up. Start with a trans­ceiver, or avalanche bea­con, your first line of de­fence, a de­vice that helps peo­ple find you if you are buried in an avalanche. That as­sumes it is turned on of course – be sure to check it is op­er­at­ing ev­ery time you head out into the snow. Once searchers have found your ap­prox­i­mate lo­ca­tion, they can use probes to zero in, and fi­nally a shovel to dig you out. This means of course that ev­ery­one in your party should have the gear – it’s no good only you hav­ing a probe and shovel if it is you that is buried. Th­ese items are the min­i­mum re­quired when ac­cess­ing the back­coun­try but you can also in­vest in an airbag-equipped back­pack. Th­ese packs use a num­ber of ways to rapidly in­flate bal­loon-like pro­tec­tion around your head and shoul­ders, help­ing you to ‘float’ on the slid­ing snow, im­prov­ing your odds of sur­vival in a big slide.

Two re­cent model trans­ceivers, or avalanche beacons

The es­sen­tials of back­coun­try ski­ing: probe, bea­con and shovel.

Back­pack airbag sys­tem

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