Ready or not... its here!
The Ogden mountains have already seen the first dustings of snow this year. The trees are holding on to the last of the leaves as the weather has undoubtedly started to change. The transition from fall to winter has long-held rituals with all those that pray to the powder gods.
Most start by watching the latest ski films to fill the long dark nights before the snow arrives. Others make sacrifices to Ullr by feeding the hungry bonfires an old pair of skis, a favorite hat, or a lucky pair of socks that, frankly, just needed burning after years of abuse.
My ritual starts this week as I prepare my winter equipment. I heat up the iron and wax the whole quiver. I put fresh batteries in my beacon and headlamp. My nightly reading shifts from a halloween horror by Stephen King to the well worn pages, highlighted passages, and dog eared bookmarks in the avalanche bibles resurrected from the book shelf.
This is always a time of reflection for me. To relish in the fond memories with friends, being surrounded by the spirit and power of the mountains. It is also a time to contemplate past mistakes and near misses. I start looking at my old avalanche journals that transport me into past storm cycles. From here, I dive into them with the revelations brought through hindsight and another year of experience.
Whether you have a preseason ritual or not, the season is almost upon us. As this storm starts to roll in this weekend, consider refreshing your avalanche knowledge as well as checking the status and function of your safety equipment as it prepares to get back out there after the long summer break. This mental preparation is just as important to set the season off right with level-headed objectivity before the powder fever takes control of crucial decision making.
Explore some of the links below for general avalanche information, weather, and education.
Good Avalanche Reads:
Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain - By Bruce Tremper Link HERE
Snow Sense- By Jill Fredston Link HERE
Avalanche Essentials- Bruce Tremper Link HERE
Beacon/Probe/Shovel: These are listed together as you need all of them to complete your Avalanche safety package. Beacons are the most likely to have something go wrong. Start with fresh batteries and a self check. Look at the manufacturer's website for updates or recalls. If your beacon is more than 5 years old, talk to the manufacturer about updating, testing, and if needed replacing it.. Try checking the search and send function with a ski partner. If there is a problem you can get it fixed before your first day of skiing, no temptation to go anyway and fix it later. Your probe and shovel just need a quick check to make sure all is still in working order.
Airbag pack: Give it a pull! Check with the manufacturer for updates and recalls. Refresh on any maintenance you may have missed out on.
Skis/Board: A fresh wax and a quick tune of the edges should take care of it.
Skins: I really like to start the season with fresh skin wax. Double check tail clips and glue while you are at it.
Bindings: For most touring bindings there is not much you can do but check the boot clearance/tolerance and make sure they are still working. If you have an older set of resort bindings consider getting them release tested at your local shop to make sure they are still working as needed.
Boots: Double check that all the screws and buckles are tight and functioning to ensure you don't lose parts in the field. If you snowboard, check the laces or boa system to make sure they are working. Apply a fresh coat of silicone water repellent.
Most of this pretty basic and should not take too long. If you didn't see something crucial or have something to add, please share in the comments below.