Kayak Touring and Avalanches

You might be reading the title of this post and wondering how the subjects relate to each other. They’re both part of an ongoing quest for outdoor adventure and knowledge.

On Monday, we went to an evening talk on how to get started in kayak touring. Although we have two folding Klepper kayaks – one single and one double – we’ve done more lake and river paddling than ocean touring.

Kayak touring in a Klepper. Photo: M.Kopp

Early this summer we’re hoping to take a week-long trip to a small group of islands on the west coast with a couple of friends. It’s never too early to start exploring options as to whether we’ll go fully guided and catered, guided and self-catered, or completely on our own. But if we go on our own, that’ll mean taking a navigation (chart and compass) course.

As with almost every subject, the more you know, the more questions you have and the more you need to know – which brings me to avalanches.

Last Friday, Brooks-Range Ambassador and mountain guide Donny Roth wrote a post about always asking questions. His words were repeated almost verbatim on Wednesday at the first session of an avalanche course I’m taking this week.

The course instructor also suggested we work to train our brains to see avalanche potential – even while sitting as a passenger in a car traveling through mountainous areas.

Study slopes that have released and follow the path. Did the snow follow the terrain? Did it ride right over an obstacle? Study slopes that haven’t released. If it did go, where would the facture line be? How far would it go? Where would it go?

It takes time to develop a strong knowledge base – no matter what type of outdoor adventure you pursue. Take courses, read books, talk to experts, practice skills, get outside, and remember there is a quest in every question.

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