We have a lot of snow in the Sierras. The snow is unstable. How do you travel safely when in the back country?
Gear: Make sure you have a pieps, snow shovel, a friend, a compass, whistle, signaling device, small winter survival kit (fire starter and space blanket) and proper clothing. Prior to leaving, notify some one where you are going and when you will return. Also tell them, if you do not show up, call out search and rescue with out hesitation. Time is of the greatest importance.
Before you venture out, discuss with your partner procedures on what to do upon an avalanche or upon an injury. In addition, make sure your equipment is working. Check the batteries. Know how to use the pieps. You should also check the local avalanche conditions. You should know what to look for in an avalanche prone area and how to detect one. You do not need a snow pit.
Once you have completed your initial evaluation, go out and have fun. Play safe and be careful. Plan before you go.
Remember if search and rescue is called to get you, most of the time it will be to recover your body. You survival time in a avalanche may only be 20 minutes. From there it goes down fast. You want to make sure your friend know what to do if you happen upon an avalanche. He will need to watch you and get to you fast. He will need to be aware of his conditions as well.
If you travel out into the back country in the winter, be aware of your conditions and have a plan. I may save your life.