Online Avalanche Training Course

10:36 a.m. on November 26, 2012 (EST)
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If you're going to the mountains in winter, you need to look at this. In spite of a much smaller number of  people in the backcountry in winter, a higher percentage of them get killed, and it's usually by avalanches.

Obviously not as complete  as a proper, hands-on AST program, but a real good start.

http://www.avalanche.ca/cac/training/online-course

12:06 p.m. on November 26, 2012 (EST)
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Avalanche safety is no joke. It is very useful to dig some pits and examine the snow layers. Be careful when and where you travel. Carry beacons and avalanche probes, and shovels.

4:06 p.m. on November 26, 2012 (EST)
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standard snow camping tools: shovel, snowsaw, snowshoes, probe. the risk of avalanches is minimal on san jacinto, but it looks like a very detailed course. would be good if I were going to alaska or somewhere...but my snowcamping days are over. I'm a fairweather hiker now.

4:53 p.m. on November 26, 2012 (EST)
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I've seen this site before, very informative, but as Yogi Berra once said, "In theory, theory and practice are the same, in practice, they are not."

I've never heard of an avalanche down this way (San Jacinto, Mt. Baldy), but that's not to say there aren't some in the backcountry.

11:18 p.m. on November 26, 2012 (EST)
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As I said, "Obviously not as complete  as a proper, hands-on ... program, but a real good start."

No substitute for digging in the snow with a qualified instructor, but the people who get killed seem to be the ones who haven't even considered the risks. Hopefully, awareness will make a difference. 

6:26 p.m. on November 27, 2012 (EST)
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they must have avalanches in the sierra, up north (canada, alaska), for those headed that way the site would be a good primer.

8:59 p.m. on November 27, 2012 (EST)
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There have been some huge avalanches in the northern Sierra around Tahoe. Usually someone gets killed by one every year, mostly backcountry skiers or boarders, but Alpine Meadows was hit by a huge avy that killed seven people in 1982.

Here is a good site for Sierra weather and avy stories-http://www.thestormking.com/Weather/weather.html

Here's the link to the Sierra Avy Center-

http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/

9:53 p.m. on November 27, 2012 (EST)
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Tom,

When I was in high school and college in SoCal in the 1950s and 60s, we had a number of winters with heavy snows. I saw one slide on Baldy above the Sierra Club hut and a couple on Greyback's north side while backcountry ski touring (one set off by one of the hot-dog skiers in our group not far down from the summit heading down toward Dry Lake) during that period. There's a lot less snow there nowadays. San Jac is too well covered with trees to have slides, except maybe Snow Creek area.

2:51 a.m. on November 28, 2012 (EST)
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Bill, I figured as much. The few times I've been to Baldy skiing at the ski field over the past maybe ten years, a day here and there, almost each season, the snow was pretty well packed so avalanches didn't look like much of a possibility, but there are a couple of chutes on the ski runs where I could see it happening with heavy snow-narrow with the right angle or just steep enough for someone to set one off.

4:35 a.m. on November 28, 2012 (EST)
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Tom D said:

..I've never heard of an avalanche down this way (San Jacinto, Mt. Baldy), but that's not to say there aren't some in the backcountry.

Actually Mt Baldy is notorious for avalanches!  There used to be a fatality every couple of years.  Usually just small slides by the road side that catch the tourists playing in the snow.  Nowadays these locations are cordoned off with safety barriers.  Likewise it is not a good idea to venture off the north side of Baldy after a storm, as the snow remains unstable for extended periods, and has buried back country hikers over the years, some which were never recovered.  While San Jacinto is not known for avalanches, I am sure they occur.  Lore has it avalanches have been observed to start at the peak in Snow Creek Canyon, that tumbled down this north side escarpment, finally playing out their energy in the desert arroyo thousands of feet below as a flash flood.  Sounds fantastical, but certainly seems plausible when viewing Snow Creek Canyon from either end.

Another more notorious place for snow slides is the north face of San Gorgonio.  Like Baldy and the north aspects of many mountains, that slope can remain unstable for days and weeks after a storm.  Lastly, not only can practically any of the So Cal mountains avalanche, they can generate amazingly huge slides!  If you take the trail up to Little Jimmy from the end of the Crystal Lake Road, off Rte 39, you can view back down into the valley you hiked out of.  One will notice a knoll of several acres, near the center of the valley, colored like yellow clay.  It is not the same color as the surrounding terrain.  If you scout the rim above the valley you will also notice about two miles from the knoll a ridgeline of the same color.  In the 1870s a large avalanche dislodged from said ridgeline, carrying the soils that make up the knoll to their current location.  Yea we get snow avalanches, even in Southern California.

Ed

October 23, 2014
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