Sunday, March 18, 2012

Recent snowfall and strong winds can create avalanche hazards in Arizona's mountain backcountry.

CCSO warns of winter backcountry safety hazards

Coconino County, AZ
- The Coconino County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Unit would like to remind those venturing out into the winter backcountry of some important safety information. 
The recent heavy snowfall and strong winds can create avalanche hazards in the mountain backcountry. Unstable snow conditions can develop and remain hazardous for some time. Avalanche mitigation is conducted within the ski area boundary at Arizona Snowbowl but no avalanche mitigation is done outside the ski area boundary in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness.  Backcountry users should be familiar with avalanche hazard recognition and carry the appropriate safety equipment including an avalanche beacon, avalanche probe, backcountry shovel and winter survival gear  Backcountry users should not travel alone and should leave a detailed trip plan with a trusted friend. Cell phones are also valuable tools but should not be relied upon in backcountry locations since cell coverage may be marginal. 

There is no avalanche forecasting in Arizona so it is incumbent on winter backcountry users to acquire training and knowledge about avalanche safety.  More information is available from the Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center at

Other hazards in the backcountry include difficult travel conditions and cold weather illness and injuries.

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