This post first appeared on the Backcountry Access blog
Summer is the perfect time to crack open a book and prepare for the backcountry, whether you are a curious beginner or a seasoned backcountry skier, snowboarder, or snowmobiler. From how-to guides and survival tips to understanding how to use essential gear, there is always something new to learn. Transport yourself back to winter and read some books from our avalanche safety summer reading list. You’ll be better prepared to keep safe in avalanche terrain next winter!
Below is a list of avalanche books that Backcountry Access (BCA) recommends to all types of backcountry enthusiasts. Experience matters so they’ve included both new and older publications of interest:
Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper
The more you know about snow stability, the better your travel and rescue skills. And the sharper your decision-making, the better you may be able to avoid avalanche danger and have more fun in the winter backcountry. In Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, 3rd Edition, snow and avalanche expert Bruce Tremper of the Utah Avalanche Center provides easy-to-understand avalanche safety tips and skills, including the latest snow research and techniques for evaluating snowpack, as well as how to rescue companions in the event of an avalanche.
Avalanche Skills Training Handbook by James Floyer and Keith Robine
Avalanche Canada’s new book lays out a daily process for travel in avalanche terrain. Backcountry skiers, boarders, snowshoers, ice climbers, hikers – anyone who enjoys the winter mountain environment—can use the methods in this book to manage their avalanche risk and make good travel decisions in the mountains. Topics covered include recognizing avalanche terrain, understanding avalanche conditions, the avalanche forecast, trip planning, slope evaluation, good travel habits, avalanche rescue techniques, and human behaviors.
Avalanche Skills Training Handbook – Sled Version by James Floyer, Keith Robine, and Curtis Pawliuk
Avalanche Canada’s new book lays out a daily process for travel in avalanche terrain. Any snowmobiler or snow biker who enjoys the winter mountain environment can use the methods in this book to manage their avalanche risk and make good travel decisions in the mountains. Topics covered include recognizing avalanche terrain, understanding avalanche conditions and the avalanche forecast, trip planning, slope evaluation, good travel habits, avalanche rescue techniques, and human behaviors.
Sledding in Avalanche Terrain: Reducing the Risk by Bruce Jamieson
This book is a safety guide for snowmobilers and includes snowmobile safety measures, how to recognize unstable snow, and search and rescue techniques. Bruce Jamieson, a past president of the Canadian Avalanche Association, has researched avalanches extensively over the past 20 years. Darcy Svederus has developed snowmobile safety courses and teaches avalanche awareness and snowmobile safety courses.
Allen & Mike’s Avalanche Book: A Guide To Staying Safe In Avalanche Terrain by Allen O’Bannon and Mike Clelland
With more and more people heading into the winter backcountry on skis, snowshoes, and snowmobiles, avalanche safety is of paramount importance. Allen & Mike’s Really Cool Avalanche Safety Book distills the sometimes overly technical information of snow science into a user-friendly format with helpful illustrations and easy-to-understand text. With years of experience as NOLS instructors to draw on, Allen O’Bannon and Mike Clelland team up to give winter recreationists the information they need to stay safe in the backcountry, including how to prepare for your trip, proper equipment and how to use it, snowpack assessment, choosing safe travel routes, decision making, and rescue scenarios. Written for both aspiring winter backcountry travelers and experts alike, this book is a must-read for anybody who loves to experience the solitude and beauty of the snowy mountains.
Snow Sense: A Guide to Evaluating Snow Avalanche Hazard by Jill Fredston and Doug Fesler
Snow Sense is North America’s leading primer on how to avoid getting caught in an avalanche. Written by the experts, Snow Sense focuses on the critical terrain, snowpack, weather, and human factors that allow avalanche accidents to happen. A must-have for anyone who works or plays in avalanche country.
Avalanche Essentials: A Step-by-Step System for Safety and Survival by Bruce Tremper
Winter athletes don’t necessarily want to be snow scientists but playing in avalanche country does require basic knowledge of the risks in order to stay safe. This new guide by renowned avalanche expert Bruce Tremper is simple, accessible, and offers just the basics — an Everyman’s guide to avalanche safety that won’t overtax your average ski bums but will keep them safe when they’re going for 12 consecutive months of powder. Avalanche Essentials is for everyone who wants to learn the fundamentals of avalanche awareness, focusing on systems and checklists, step-by-step procedures, decision-making aids, visual terrain and weather cues, rescue techniques, gear, and more. Because it steers clear of more complex topics (e.g., snow metamorphism), it’s perfect for generalists as well as anyone who has studied avalanche safety and likes to keep a pocket reference while in potentially dangerous terrain.
The ABCs of Avalanche Safety by Sue Ferguson and Ed LaChapelle
The ABCs of Avalanche Safety is a handy pocket guide offered at a bargain price. And it is still loaded with the vital information you need to survive in the mountains: how to determine potential avalanche hazards, traveling safely in avalanche terrain, what to do if you’re caught in an avalanche, and search and rescue techniques. A respected authority since 1961, this enduring classic has been updated with the very latest research in the field, including avalanche transceiver technology.
The Avalanche Handbook by David McClung and Peter Schaerer
Technical yet accessible, The Avalanche Handbook, 3rd Edition, covers the formation, character, effects, and control of avalanches; rescue techniques; and research on understanding and surviving avalanches. Illustrated with nearly 200 updated illustrations, photos, and examples, this updated edition offers exhaustive information on contributing weather and climate factors, snowpack analysis, the newest transceiver search techniques, and preventative and protective measures, including avalanche zoning and control. *The text used by search and rescue professionals, ski patrol groups, and outdoor education programs.
In spite of the increasing sophistication of avalanche hazard forecasting, an alarming number of people die every year in backcountry avalanche accidents. This updated edition of Backcountry Avalanche Safety contains the latest information on avalanche risk and focuses on navigating mountain weather, snow and snowpack, types of avalanches, avalanche terrain, and trip planning.
Backcountry Skiing: Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering (Mountaineers Outdoor Expert) by Martin Volken, Scott Schell, and Margaret Wheeler
Martin Volken and his co-authors provide skiers with all the tools and knowledge they need to safely and successfully travel in the mountain backcountry. The guide features intermediate-to-advanced techniques for ski touring and ski mountaineering, from planning backcountry trips to perfecting turns in rolling terrain and mastering uphill climbing. For those skiers ready for a more technical, high alpine environment, they draw on traditional mountaineering skills, including roped climbing, setting protection anchors, using ice axes, climbing on bare rock, and more. In addition to mastering techniques, Backcountry Skiing also features information on recent evolutions in ski equipment; avalanche safety tips; a primer on mountain weather and glaciers, trip planning tools, a discussion of emergency situations, nutrition and fitness advice, and winter camping basics. This guide emphasizes being well-informed and making good decisions — whenever you strap on your skis and skins and head out into the backcountry.