Sorcerer Lodge – Let’s Identify Low Visibility Runs

Now that you have identified runs that you would ski in low visibility, review this video for Don Sharaf’s answers to this question. This is a great exercise to do anytime you are headed into unfamiliar terrain. Is there terrain you can travel through at any hazard rating? Is there terrain for low visibility? Ask these questions before planning a hut trip, a yurt trip, or a camping trip.

The next thing we want you to do is to draw in a route to Mt. Iconoclast. You can do this on a paper map or use CalTopo with or without slope shading. Identify at least one route that you would take to ascend Mt. Iconoclast. Identify critical evaluation points along the route. Where would you want onsite data? Where would you dig a pit (or two or three)? What other information do you want.

Here is the CalTopo link to the terrain around Sorcerer Lodge.

The Terrain Around Sorcerer Lodge and the Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale (ATES) Copy

In Canada, one tool for sorting terrain and how complicated moving through pieces of terrain will be is the ATES. Terrain is categorized as Simple, Challenging, or Complex. Below is a video describing each terrain category.

The Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale:

Here is the ISSW paper written about the ATES and the strategy behind the system.

Do you want more practice classifying terrain? Here is a terrain classification tutorial from the CAA.

Introduction to the Sorcerer Lodge Planning Activity

We are going to spend some time studying terrain and possible ski routes at the Sorcerer Lodge in Canada. The goal of this exercise is to gain familiarity with how to route plan for a new area. You will also gain familiarity with how use CalTopo and other resources. This activity is self paced. We will give you a task to complete and then will offer a video explanation on the answers we came to with each question. Enjoy!

Below you will find links that we cover in the introduction video and that you will need for this exercise.

Route Planning Using Online Resources

Successful backcountry travel means time spent studying routes before heading out into the field. The more time you spend studying the terrain you might travel through, the better you can anticipate decision-making points, places you might want to stop to evaluate the snowpack, and areas that might hold higher quality snow.

The following video offers a comprehensive look into using Google Earth and CalTopo for route planning.

Keep in mind, online mapping tools are a great resource. The slope angle shading is just an estimate of slope angle. It is essential to take measurements and assess terrain in the field. Do not rely solely on technology or the slope angle shading on these tools.

Here’s an article about tour planning, written by AAI Instructor, Sarah Carpenter

Building a System for Touring with the AAI Backcountry Checklist

How do we use the avalanche hazard forecast, current avalanche problems, and current snow and weather observations to put a plan together?  The AAI Backcountry Checklist offers a systematic approach to a tour day. It can help us plan and execute an appropriate tour for the day.

We built this checklist because most of us do most of these things most of the time. The goal of the checklist is to help all of us do all of these things all of the time.