It is essential to know the factors to look at that might result in an avalanche. Since an avalanche is very unpredictable. Having an avalanche checklist will not only save you effort and time but your life too. Knowing how to prognosticate a possible avalanche can help us be more prepared for a future disaster and give us one very big step ahead. The following are the things that should be included in your checklist.

The interrelation of four critical variables terrain, weather, snowpack, and man, determines whether or not a potential avalanche hazard exists. Although these important variables are frequently changing, these changes are often detectable. Not only can critical information be observed, it can be measured, tested, evaluated, and be studied. The bottom line is that our route selection and hazard evaluation decisions are only as good as the data we seek. The primary causes of avalanche accidents are attitude and ignorance. Our attitude "filters" the data and warps it to our needs or desires. Our ignorance prevents us from seeking the answers beforehand. Often, people are not willing to compromise their wants so they still push through even if they know that it is dangerous or even life-threatening.

You can save your life, so use the checklist below. Follow these simple steps:

  • You should get and seek out critical data.
  • You must evaluate the potential level of hazard (red, green, yellow).
  • Add a level of precaution for the "unknown".
  • Study your situation on a regular basis without letting your attitude persuade you away from the facts.

No Go
TERRAIN: Is the terrain capable of producing an avalanche?

Slope Angle (how steep, exposed?)

Slope Aspect (leeward, shadowed, or extremely sunny?)

Slope configuration (smoothness, anchoring, and shape effect?)

Overall Effect

WEATHER: Has the weather been contributing to instability?
Precipitation (added weight, stress?)
Wind (significant snow transport and deposition?)
Temperature (rapid/prolonged warming, weakening?)
Overall Effect
SNOWPACK: Could the snow fail?
Slab Configuration (depth, distribution, and structure?)
Bonding Ability (nature and distribution of "tender" spots?)
Sensitivity to Force (shears easily, clues to instability evident?)
Overall Effect
HUMAN: Could you be a trigger or a victim, and are you prepared for the consequences?
Attitude (toward life, risk, goals, data?)
Technical Skill Level (high/low, so what?)
Physical and Mental Ability (tired, weak, strong?)
Appropriate Equipment (prepared for the worst?)
Overall Effect
DECISION/ACTION:Do better alternatives exist?
Go/No go: why? (What assumptions are you making?)

LEVEL SYMBOLS: Think of data as being either Red, Green, or Yellow Lights.
G = Green light (Good)
Y = Yellow light (caution, potentially dangerous)
R = Red (stop/dangerous)

If you think that a potential danger is coming, not insist on going out. It would be more prejudicial for you to maintain your attitude instead of relying and believing on facts. Remember that prevention is better that cure, so it would be better to stay out of avalanche zone if you predicted a disaster even if it means spoiling the fun.