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Sierra magazine
Survive | Riding the Avalanche

Jim Sumrall is a Sierra Club Outings snow-trip leader and a wilderness ranger who serves on the ski patrol at Colorado's Purgatory Ski Area.

Having safety equipment is important, but don't let it give you a false sense of security. Assessing avalanche danger in advance is essential. Once in the backcountry, test the snow's stability yourself. (If you don't know how, learn.) If you get caught in an avalanche, kick off your skis and try to stay on top with a swimming motion. Don't count on snow surfing like Carr--he is one incredibly lucky dude.

Have you had a near-miss outdoor experience that you learned from? Send your survival stories to Sierra senior editor Paul Rauber at for possible inclusion in a future column.

Illustration by Koren Shadmi



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