Most Coloradans are outdoorsy and enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle. This year, Colorado is getting record breaking snowfall, which means the avalanche danger is particularly high. To insure your safety when enjoying the great outdoors, it is not only important to make sure you are in the proper shape, but to also make sure you have some basic avalanche knowledge.
According to the CAIC (Colorado Avalanche Information Center)1 every year in the United States 28 fatalities from avalanches will occur. As of February 19, 2014, there have already been 6 avalanche fatalities in Colorado alone.
Avalanches need three general things to occur: 1) snow, 2) a steep slope, and 3) a trigger. The most common triggers being snowmobilers, then skiers, climbers, and hikers. A steep slope is considered anything above a 30 degree angle. To give you a frame of reference, when downhill skiing, a green run has a slope of 20-25 degrees, a blue run has a slope of 25-30 degrees, and a so on. Thus, skiing on black or double black runs puts you in avalanche danger if snow and a trigger are combined.
Before you venture into the Front Range for skiing, climbing, or hiking, having the proper fitness is important. Not only is strength and endurance important, but so is having a quick reaction speed. When someone becomes caught in an avalanche, the average rescue time for survival is 15 minutes, meaning you need to be quick on your feet. Strength training via squats, building up your endurance with running or biking, and working on your reaction speed with plyometrics are a few good ways to start boosting your fitness level to combat an avalanche.
In addition to having basic avalanche knowledge, carrying a beacon, probe, and shovel are also very beneficial for your survival should an avalanche occur. If you’re interested in learning more about avalanche safety and what items are important to carry with you, there are numerous courses offered locally.
If you are interested in ensuring you have the proper fitness for high-level outdoor activity, at Castle Pines Physical Therapy we offer one-on-one Wellness Sessions, and would be happy to help you achieve this. Contact our office today by calling 303-805-5156 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Molner.