Technical information, news, research, and opinion on avalanches, snow safety, and winter backcountry travel.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The 7 Deadly Sins

if I could turn back time—Cher

This list is composed mostly of my own thoughts about what constitutes the seven deadly sins of winter backcountry travel. Your mistakes may differ, and your mileage may vary.
  • Lack of preparedness.
  • Failure to maintain awareness.
  • Failure to manage uncertainty.
  • Poor communication.
  • Not paying attention.
  • Ignoring margin-of-safety.
  • Failing to reduce expectations.
Feel free to suggest additional mistakes.


  1. This is a great list! When traveling avalanche terrain, I might add lack of experience with a beacon. The new Ortovox 3+ avalanche beacon seems to be the best one on the market right now, bit it won't do too much for you if you don't know what your doing.

  2. Thanks for the kind words. I've deliberately avoided discussing technology on my blog for a variety of reasons.

    Reason #1. When it comes to snow safety, I think technology is cart-before-horse. Technology is great, but it won't keep you out of trouble because a transceiver can't control where/when you travel.

    Reason #2. In my experience touring in the Pacific-Northwest, most tours are unplanned ( except for the choice of objective and the travel/carpool logistics ). It seems to me that there are larger issues, and transceivers are used ( all too often ) as a substitute for planning and good judgment.

    Reason #3. I don't discuss specific products or brands except in rare instances.