For some of us winter sports enthusiasts, it is about time to hit the slopes with Mt. Baker, Stevens, Crystal, and the Summit at Snoqualmie all being open to some degree! Ski/board wax: check, tickets: check, hot cocoa mix: check! With all the excitement and snow in the forecast, it is easy to forget the inherent risks of winter sports. A few quick reminders prior to strapping in:
- Safety equipment:
- Have a whistle zipped into your jacket. A whistle is a simple emergency communication device that is sufficient for most in-bounds enthusiasts. Out-of-bounds (backcountry) participation does require more advance communication equipment, skill level, and training.
- Wear a helmet. It might be dorky, but everyone else is doing it!
- Get your gear tuned up. It is worth paying a professional who knows how to sharpen ski and snowboard edges and adjust your bindings properly. These small adjustments could be the difference between you being able to hold an edge versus skidding and falling, and then coming to see us in the office for a ski/snowboard injury!
- Know your equipment. If you have advanced gear like walkie-talkies, beacons, probes, etc. go out and practice with your equipment prior to getting on the slopes. This safety equipment is worthless if you do not know how to use it! Here is a link to get you started and REI sponsors classes:
- Safety behaviors:
- Trail map. Take a look at the trail map prior to heading downhill. Everyone has a story that begins with “I confused a green for a black” but the endings aren’t always happy.
- Ride with a buddy. Besides the safety aspect, it is more fun anyways!
- Tell a third party when you’ll be home. You might have a ski buddy but what if both you and that ski buddy take the wrong route or the roads get super snowy? Just tell someone back down at sea level when you expect to be home!