We’re excited to dust off the ski boots, scrape summer wax off the skis and try sliding downhill again for the first time in 6 months. With our gear ready and excitement high, it’s time to think about preparing for backcountry touring.
To support our Backcountry Babes community in the early season jitters, here is a list of our favorite recommendations: what to put in your browser bookmark for early mornings route planning, remembering the avalanche dragon, and getting your head in the right space to make good decisions all winter long.
Weather: there are so many great weather resources — NOAA’s point forecast, Mountain Weather Forecasts, Windy, Open Snow, Weather Underground, Department of Transportation Web Cams, and the list goes on and on. Find a weather resource that assists you in tracking the early snow of the season and weather there after. Bookmark your favorite weather apps with your favorite locations. Keep track of layers in the snowpack and watch out for facets forming in the early season!
Avalanche Bulletins: Check your local avalanche bulletins and forecast sites, and read daily over coffee. In Colorado, read the Colorado Avalanche Information Center bulletin. In California, read the Sierra Avalanche Center, The Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center, or the Mt Shasta Avalanche Center. Check avalanche.org for the forecast center nearest you. Snow forecasters are geniuses when it comes to overlaying the many influences on snow to predict their behavior now and into the future. Reading the bulletins daily can help you build a mental foundation as the snowpack beings to build up!
Snow Avalanche Workshops: A great way to reintroduce your brain to the mechanics of snow and see all of your favorite new and old forecasters and sciency folk are the numerous Snow and Avalanche Workshops around the country. Here are a few of our regional favorites:
- The Eastern SAW is starting this Friday with follow up virtual sessions on November 17th, 18th & 19th 2020.
- Sierra Avalanche Forecasting Center (CA) recorded their SAW throughout the month of October and is totally free to the public. Check out their social media accounts for video archives of this year and past.
- The Colorado SAW was October 14th, 15th & 16th of this year and held virtually. Check out their website for recorded presentations.
- If you don’t see a SAW close to you, check out https://avalanche.org/ and find the closest forecast center to you. Write them an email and see where they recommend you attend next year’s SAW.
Check out the American Avalanche Association, and consider getting a membership which includes a subscription to the Avalanche Review— about 3 full color magazines per year with seasons in review, the latest in scientific updates, avalanche dogs, and more. Designed for the professional & scientific community, the TAR is also readable for all avalanche nerds. While you’re there, check out Snowy Torrents, which makes a case study of all reported avalanche accidents, decade by decade.
Need a podcast to get your head in the game? Checkout SLIDE, the avalanche podcast by Doug Krause.
Increase the Psyche: This is probably the most important step. Go to YouTube, type in “Best Ski Movies” and enjoy. Anything Jeremy Jones, Warren Miller, TGR, MSP, RedBull, Sherpas Cinemas should provide ample adrenaline and inspiration. As a disclaimer, movies don’t always reflect the best decision making.
For backcountry specific films, check out the annual Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Fest! This is a series of short films about backcountry skiing and human powered winter sports! Watch a screening that supports a local cause near you… in 2020 there are two shows! One is the Best in Fest showcasing the best films from the past 15 years of the show, and the 2020-2021 Backcountry Film Festival.
And finally, the truly most important step is your snow dance. Dance away friends, and we hope to see you on the slopes, in a course, or on a Babes trip somewhere around the world. Until then, dance, dance, dance and pray for snow.