Posted on: 2014-01-22 19:25:28 by davidof

Chris Davenports avalanche avoidance tips

You guys probably know more about Chris Davenport than me. The 43 year old Aspen pro skier has climbed and skied on Everest as well as winning the world extreme ski championships. Twice. He's also had a few brushes with the white death so he's just given his thoughts on what he's learned about avalanches.

Davenport echos something Dominique Perret said earlier in the season. All the gear is no substitute for "experience and sound judgment. Making good, safe choices in the mountains is critical to avoiding avalanches." It is certainly true that once you are caught you no longer have choices but Airbags have proved themselves in a number of situations if you do get caught. So if you are a member of the Raving Rabbids school of avalanche education an airbag, as well as training on how to use it, is not a bad choice.

Davenport has 5 themes to safe travel: Expectation, Terrain and Exposure, Human Factors, Partners and Data. His advice is simple but should strike a chord with many people going off-piste.

Expectations is something Chamonix guide Andy Perkins has touched upon recently with his warning to skiers to "wind their necks in" this season in the Alps. Davenport suggests setting "broad goals and low expectations at the start of the day" as opposed to having a defined, must-do objective. Having fun is what is important rather than a "go mentality" in the face of evidence. Terrain and Exposure. Asking yourself what is the worst thing that can happen if this slope goes big. Will you be taken over cliffs, buried in a valley. As Amie Engerbretson's slide showed earlier in the year, if there is a terrain trap you can be buried even if you are wearing an airbag. Davenport advises to "change your plan", if you are not happy with the risk.

Human Factors. Davenport cites "Honesty" as the key factor. Being honest with the group about your abilities, expectations and worries. Share your thoughts with your ski partners. Partnership Chris sees this as the key to overcoming many human factors. You need to have compatible goals and trust the people you are skiing with. He also suggests using all the Data you have available from avalanche forecasts to field observations. People keep getting caught by slides when all the evidence says they should not have been skiing where they were.