Hallelujah! We received our first snow storm of the season and we can’t be happier. But before we even were able to slide our snow shoes into the fresh white powder, we were already seeing posts online of hikers that are ill prepared and under skilled to be attempting to hike in the snow. We get it, snow in SoCal is exciting, and we all want to experience it, especially when we see all the posts of others doing it with huge smiles on their faces. It took us many years and tons of experience (including climbing mountains like Mount Shasta to gain mountaineering experience) to be able to say we have the skills and knowledge to be able to hike in the snow safely. While we think it is one of the best things one can do in life, we also are saddened every winter by the amount of people that do not take it seriously and are injured or killed in the mountains.
Snow Hiking ≠ Hiking
Snow hiking does not equal hiking. Hiking in the snow presents lots of additional challenges and dangers that regular hiking does not. It is a skill that must be learned and sharpened with experience and extensive knowledge. Do you have the right equipment and know what to bring for the current conditions? Have you been trained in how to use that equipment? Do you know how to read a detailed weather forecast that includes the different elevations you will be hiking to? Do you have extensive off trail navigation skills with a compass and a map? Are you carrying enough gear and are prepared to spend the night in below freezing conditions if something goes awry? Can you physically sit/lay in the snow and stay warm/dry with the gear you have with you until help arrives if you get hurt? Do you know where it is safe to hike and how to avoid avalanche areas? Do you have the physical stamina to get you back to your car as hiking in the snow requires more physical effort?
These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before heading out into the white wilderness. We put together a list of some of the very basics to think about in addition to the questions above. We want you to have that same magical experience we do every time we hit the snow, but also want you to get back safe so you can share all your photos with us!
There is so much more on this subject than we could ever cover in a blog post but hope this will get you started to at least think about what is truly needed to venture out into the snow. As always, let someone you trust know where you are going and when to expect you back and most of all have fun!