Snow Concerns In General

Mountain Education Resources
Snow Concerns In General

If you are worried about hiking in snow, you’ve got the right attitude! Be cautious, educated, trainied, and experienced before you get there, if you want to have a stressless, safe, and fun hike.

During planning and preparation, read about other hiker’s experiences hiking in snow, attend local outdoor courses on the subject, and take numerous weekend hikes up in the snow yourself. Preferably hike with someone who knows what they’re doing and has the patience to teach it to you. These courses can be found at local backpacking stores, clubs, and colleges, to name a few.

For the long-trail crowd, Mountain Education offers free, 3-day training courses in the Sierra around Lake Tahoe in Desolation Wilderness. For more information, email them at .

The primary areas of concern when travelling over snow are these:

Navigation: knowledge of where the trail is and where it is going.
Avalanche awareness: how to spot unstable slopes before crossing it.
Crossing creeks and lakes: knowing when the pack is too soft to cross.
Hidden dangers: trees, logs, rocks, idiot-makers, ice, post-holing, etc..
Falling out of control: how to stop or self-arrest your fall before the rocks.
In-tent cooking: skillful cooking inside is perfectly safe with caution.
Surface hazards: ice, suncups, cornices, etc..
Ascent/Descent Timing: how to get up the Pass without falling in or down.
Route-Finding: what is the safest way to get from here to there?
Stability/Footing: to snowshoe or not to snowshoe and how.
Water: finding or melting and which is safest.
Fuel: having enough for the intense exertion of the day.
Exposure/Dehydration/Electrolytes: be aware – these can end your day.
Hypothermia/Hyperthermia/Sweat: you thought layering was important?

Read, ask questions, and practice BEFORE you leave on your trip!

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