How to Communicate About Avalanches Like an Industry Professional

As a backcountry traveler, it is important to be able to communicate about avalanche activity – how big an avalanche was, what started it, where it was.

When avalanches are documented, it is typically written as TYPE-TRIGGER-SIZE-BED SURFACE.

For example: SS-AS-D2-O for Soft Slab, Artificial Skier, Destructive Size 2, Old Snow.

This video covers how professionals document avalanches. As an advanced recreationist, it is important to understand this language.

It can be hard to remember all of these symbols and short hand documentation. Use the Snow, Weather and Avalanche Guidelines (SWAG) as a study guide. Page 50 is where the avalanche observations section starts.

It can be tricky to estimate avalanche size. Here is a video discussing a more visual method for rating the size of avalanches.

And if you want to practice this, here is a video that runs you through a variety of avalanches and offers you an opportunity to estimate the avalanche sizes.