Information provided here is one piece of the puzzle in effectively evaluating backcountry snow conditions and avalanche hazard. Weather, snow, and avalanche conditions are constantly changing and we are only able to provide small, static snapshots of this dynamic phenomena. In order to effectively use and apply the information found on this website you need to understand alpine safety, hazard recognition, and rescue. To understand how we define the prevailing conditions read below.
You will find these two warnings for forecast or prevailing weather conditions. Travel in these conditions is not recommended. In the event of an accident, the weather conditions will hamper and endanger a rescue teams ability to both locate and assist you.
IMPORTANT NOTE: These observations are conducted with the use of enhanced deffinition goggle lenses as the standard for alpine travel in these adverse conditions. To the naked eye, visibility distances may be considerably less.
Travelling in alpine terrain with compromised visibility without eye protection can lead to temporary and long term vision impairment. A dangerous combined effect takes place, as the optical nerve strives to make sense of the absense of deffinition, in the presence of usually strong UV(B) rays, in a white out the cornea is damaged. Like sunburn on the cornea. Neurologically it malfunctions and begins to fail, resulting in confused messages to the brain. This is a form of disorientation refered to as ‘snow blindness’. Simultaneously, atmoshpheric particles of ice collide with the pupil and can damage the surface of the eye. In some cases creating long term damage and associated vision impairment. In short, always pack high quality sunglasses and goggles (and spare lenses when possible) and wear them the minute the conditions demand them. There is more information on eye wear here.