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The Canadian Avalanche Association's Avaluator avalanche management planning card #1982
Back To Discussion List Written: 2008.02.16 by: Frank W. Baumann

I am interested in hearing comments from people, not affiliated with the CAA, ACMG, or a related organization, that have used the Avaluator avalanche planning card. If you have used it, did you find it to be a useful tool when traveling in backcountry avalanche areas?


#1001 - 2008.02.16 Scott Nelson
I like the slope assessment tool (ALPTRUTh) questionaire. It's worth noting that the CAA didn't invent this method, but found it to be one of the most effective when applied to historic Canadian accident data. I don't use the card - I just remember the acronym. This method saves me from doing a full snow pit a lot of the time when we are skiing with 0 or 1 yes answers to the questions. When the questions return 3 or 4 yes answers I start to be much more cautious about making more detailed snowpack observations and gathering more data.

As for the trip planning part, it basically formalizes what we already do to plan trips - choose a destination suitable to the current conditions. I do like having some sort of standardized terrain scale that can be used to get a rough idea of how exposed a particular trip is. I don't think it comes close to replacing first hand knowledge of the terrain and studying maps beforehand, etc. Maybe in this sense it has the potential to become a bit of a crutch. If the terrain rating is simple maybe you end up not paying very much attention to avalanche runouts, etc. However this works both ways and the standardized ratings do help to prevent you from rationalizing planning a dangerous trip in complex terrain by reminding you that it's a bad idea every time you look at the card.