Avalanche Warning Signs


With the recent incident in the Pinedale area, I felt it would be a good time to look back at an article I did a few months ago. When it comes to avalanches, there are many different steps that someone can follow when it comes to reducing the risk of a potential avalanche.

Warning Signs

Before you leave your house, the first step should be to check the avalanche reports in the area you will be recreating. The website avalanche.org is a great source to view the current avalanche warning from around the world.

Once in the backcountry, watching for the following signs will help you identify unstable snow and the potential for an avalanche.

  • Witnessing an avalanche or see evidence of a previous slide
  • Cracks forming around your feet, skis or snowmobile
  • The ground underneath you feels hollow
  • A “whumping” sound can be heard while you walk on the snow. This is a huge indicator that a slab might release.
  • Baseball size snowballs can be seen rolling down a sunny slope. This indicates surface warming and possible wet snow.


As mentioned in a previous Outdoorsman, the terrain can play a huge part in avalanche safety. Slopes between 30 and 45 degrees are where most avalanches occur, and south facing slopes are safer than the north facing slopes.

Avoid the following:

  • Convex Slopes
  • Boulders and trees where the snowpack breaks
  • Cliff bands
  • Wind-loaded slopes or beneath cornices
  • Bowls
  • Spots where snow can settle after a slide
  • Steep, Narrow gullies

Planning an escape route when entering an area is always a great idea.

Keeping an eye out for these warning signs will ensure your next trip is safe and enjoyable.

“I’m Tyler Mann, and I’ll see you on the trail”

All information provided by REI Expert Advice.