Avalanche survivor shares slope safety resources - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Avalanche survivor shares slope safety resources

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Before hitting the slopes, The Base Camp invited the community to hit the classroom and educate themselves on staying safe in the case of an avalanche. 

The Billings business off of Grand Avenue offered an avalanche safety seminar Tuesday led by Chris Belbrey, one instructor who knows firsthand the disaster's dangers. 

"It's chaotic and can be a very traumatic event," warns Belbrey.

Belbrey said he encountered more than one avalanche during his time as a patrolman. 

"It's an event that I wouldn't ever recommend to anyone," Belbrey said, "or wish on my worst enemy."

According to the United States Avalanche Center, 90 percent of avalanche victims die in slides triggered by themselves or a member of the group. Belbrey hopes his seminars reach people before they take to the Montana mountains, and helps keep skiers and others safe on the slopes. 

During Tuesday's 90-minute seminar, Belbrey educated viewers on how to recognize the potential for an avalanche as well as how to react during an avalanche. 

According to Belbrey, the three most important tools in avalanche safety are:

  • proper gear
  • proper training
  • checking the forecast

Belbrey said large amounts of snow in a short period of time pose a higher risk for an avalanche. 

Other avalanche 'red flags' include:

  • recent avalanches 
  • signs of unstable snow as you travel, such as cracking or collapsing snowpack
  • heavy snowfall or rain in the past 24 hours
  • wind blown snow
  • significant warming or rapidly increasing temperatures
  • persistent weak layers, because when these are busied in the snowpack, you may trigger an avalanche weeks after a storm or when no other Red Flags 

If you missed Tuesday's seminar, Belbrey said more avalanche safety classes are expected to be offered throughout the state. In the meantime, you can find more information about avalanches and avalanche safety by visiting http://www.mtavalanche.com/

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