Wax the skis and brush up on avalanche safety

Winter is here early, and there’s no going back now. With over a foot of fresh powder on the ground, fall is officially over and that brings one thing to everyone’s mind: skiing and snowboarding. The time for waxing up the skis and boards and brushing up on avalanche safety is finally here. The Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF) kicked off the snow season with their 50th annual ski swap on Nov. 4 and 5, bringing the best deals on used gear. The ski swap allowed members of the community to sell their well-loved gear to other locals in the city and also provided them the chance to purchase the necessary equipment without giving up an arm and a leg. The BSF is a non-profit ski organization located in Bozeman that provides easy access to groomed trails and educational programs for skiers of all ages.

Another big part of the snow season is making sure that everyone who intends to go skiing off-piste, or in the backcountry, knows about avalanche awareness. Skiing in unpatrolled areas might sound exciting, but learning what to do when caught in an avalanche is a life or death situation; it can’t be left up to luck or chance to keep you safe. Avalanche courses teach what avalanches are, how they’re triggered and specific characteristics of terrains to avoid. There are many components related to what causes a slide, from terrain size and shape to the climate of the mountain range, but all that is hinged on the skier’s knowledge and awareness of avalanches.

Many organizations, including the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC) provide training on avalanche safety for the general public. ASMSU and GNFAC is sponsoring an instructional avalanche course on Nov. 29 and 30 with a field session on Dec. 2, 3 and 9 at Bridger Bowl. Visit mtavalanche.com/workshops/calendar to learn more.

Minimize the risk of slides by learning the basics of avalanches; it can be possible to avoid one if you know what to watch out for.