ANCHORAGE (KTUU) If you can smell the mountains, you're in avalanche terrain and you need to be equipped and educated to handle fast-changing conditions -- that's the message from experts gathered on the campus of Alaska Pacific University.
DOT workers clear an avalanche from Hatcher Pass Rd. on Monday, Marcy 19, 2018. (From AKDOT&PF)
They're talking snow with other pros and working to make sure regular Alaskans have everything they need before hitting our trails and slopes this winter.
The power of an avalanche shouldn't be underestimated, according to Mel Coady, the Alaska Avalanche School Executive Director.
"They can destroy railroad tracks, they can take out power lines, homes, they can destroy cars. So as a person, on your snowshoes, on your sled, on your skis, you have very little ability to protect yourself." said Coady.
You can't stop an avalanche once it's started, but you can survive with the right tools and know-how.
First, Coady says anyone on a trail, in a valley or on a slope is in avalanche terrain. Before you head out, check the weather, including the avalanche forecast. Last, but certainly not least, always bring a beacon, shovel and probe.
"If you are on the snow in the winter without those ingredients, that is unacceptable risk its like being in a car without a seat belt or airbag," said Coady.
For Avalanche Level 1 or 2 classes, additional information can be found on their website.