The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center is sharing its message of avalanche awareness with free basic seminars this winter.
Dozens of people attended Wednesday night’s workshop at Base Camp in Helena with avalanche educator and ski patroller Josh Olsen.
He told attendees as the back country gets busier each year, it’s important for people to educate themselves, whether they ski, snowmobile or snowshoe.
Olsen said this year in Montana, forecasters are seeing solid snow pack to start the season, but cold temperatures are causing depth hoar, or sugar snow.
That’s an unstable layer causing concern in western parts of the state.
“They had a big new load of snow and a lot of wind,” Olsen told MTN. “So the western part of the state is going to be struggling with more unstable conditions, for the next few days, until that new load of wind and snow stabilizes out over time with the rest of the snow pack.”
Olsen said if you live in Helena or another city where there is no avalanche center, it is still helpful to look at forecasts from Bozeman, Missoula and the Flathead.
He said you can use that information to better plan your own trip.
Olsen also emphasized five steps for outdoor enthusiasts: get the gear, get the training, get the forecast, get the picture, and get out of harm’s way.
He said everyone in your party needs a digital beacon, metal shovel and a probe. People were able to win those items through a raffle at the seminar.