These are some excellent web pages, ebooks, and videos on snow safety. My hope is that this list will provide some affirmed, focused information amid the overwhelming volume of online content on the topic. These resources are intended to complement—not substitute—a proper ski mentorship: a good starting point on this concept is to read my thoughts on ski mentorship.
First is a list of websites I check before every tour:
- Avalanche Canada: overall avalanche conditions for Western Canada; be sure to look at recent MIN reports and weather stations near your intended route
- Avalanche Canada Mountain Weather Forecast: a concise summary of overall weather patterns in Western Canada
- Mountain Conditions Report: recent trip reports as well as road/area closure notices
- SpotWx Rogers Pass: two-day weather forecast for Rogers Pass
- SpotWx Bow Lake: two-day weather forecast for Bow Lake (Highway 93N)
- SpotWx Kananaskis: two-day weather forecast for Burstall Pass Trail, Kananaskis Country
- Know Before You Go: a good intro video
- Go Farther—Get Avalanche Trained: Avalanche Canada’s intro to avalanche training, where you’d start by taking the two-day AST 1 course from a number of different providers. Then spend 5–10 days in the backcountry and consider taking AST 2 (usually four days).
- Avalanche Canada Online Avalanche Tutorial: a detailed introductory resource
- Avalanche Canada Route-finding exercise: part of the immediately preceding tutorial worth emphasizing
- Rogers Pass Winter Permit System: info on skiing in Rogers Pass, BC. Know the difference between a Winter Restricted Area and a Winter Prohibited Area, and put aside up to a few hours to do the Annual Winter Permit quiz if you’ve never toured in Rogers before. It isn’t required to do the quiz to ski in Rogers as you can still get daily winter permits at the Discovery Centre; however, doing the quiz will give you much more additional context regarding the rules of skiing at Rogers. Don’t be the ignorant few who ruin it for the rule-abiding many.
For Intermediate and Advanced Skiers
- Avalanche! The Guide’s Guide to Safer Travel in the Mountains: a very detailed ebook covering AST 1 and AST 2 and more.
- BackCountry Access Avalanche Resources: check out the handouts for some quick overviews
- Avalanche Problem Toolbox: info on different types of avalanches
- Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose in the Avalanche Patch by Bruce Kay: mandatory reading for everyone who spends time in avalanche terrain, with details on social factors, risk management and other insights from a multi-decade avalanche professional. Don’t be cheap: spend the $10 and buy the ebook. Seriously.
- Making Sense of Snow Stability Tests—And How They Fit into Tour Planning: snowpack tests can be helpful if done properly—and unhelpful if not
- Common snowpack tests: check the immediately preceding link to see how these apply to tour planning
- Mountain Skills: The Dos and Don’ts of Quick Pits: a fast instability test
- The Three Circle Method: A Standardized Approach For Avalanche Professionals: a backup search technique for multi-burial scenarios; also see BackCountry Access’s video
- Spring forecasting - A guide: good info on spring conditions. This page has been an open tab in my web browser for almost two years now. Read it, then go spring skiing and consider which of the four scenarios applies to you, then re-read it. Repeat every spring.
- Crevasse Rescue - Ski Mountaineering Tips - G3 University: an overview on crevasse rescue systems; taking a course is highly recommended
Again, these resources are not exhaustive and are meant to complement a ski apprenticeship with a more experienced mentor.
Find the gaps in your knowledge, read up on them, practice new techniques and ideas in the field, then re-read what you studied and find other perspectives on these topics until they become familiar.
I hope that this list is valuable to those anywhere along the ski-experience curve, from beginners to experts.