Thursday, 8 December 2016

Recco's at Nevis Range

I have just done a training session on the R9 for Nevis Range Ski Patrol. What a great and positive bunch of folk. The NR ticket office are selling reflectors and I recommend two, on opposing sides and top and bottom. It's always worth being more searchable.

Recco - another important part of the organised rescue strategy. Education and avalanche avoidance is primary, being found early by companions if it goes wrong is vital and prior practise makes this work. Organised rescue requires a triple response when companion recovery fails: Dogs, Recco and Probe Lines. Until recently Scotland has only been able to apply two of the three, unlike alpine rescue avalanche search where for years all three have been used as an all in approach. Survival is time critical. So it's really good that Nevis Range Ski Patrol are now equipped with a detector and for folk wanting the additional security to the three essentials they can buy Recco reflectors at the ticket office. Mountaineers in Scotland don't tend to carry the three essentials and education may well be the key, but it doesn't seem to change the fact that most fatalities are for mountaineers, often multiple burials in terrain traps and perhaps being searchable might just save a life or return someone remains to their loved ones for closure that much quicker even if sadly too late.  gives a fairly common sense approach. But errāre hūmānum es

Much has been made of trauma being the main factor in poor survival in Scottish avalanches. I have heard it punted often and its refered to in places like UK Climbing. Sometimes this is from professional mountaineers and even rescuers. Without any study from this country (Scotland) we can only apply the data from European studies and that indicates that 73% of deaths are from asphyxiation, 25% Trauma and 2% Hypothermia. Studies per country for example the USA are not dissimilar (see pic below) and several published studies support the notion that we can most likely say its most likely the same ratios apply in Scotland. Its also worth speaking to the rescuers who were on scene at some of the major Scottish avalanches, and while only anecdotal it lends support that the pattern is the same here. One catastrophic event in one Glen can easily overwhelm, but things need looked at over a long period and from all areas to make conclusions and avoid post incident bias from any one event where avalanche and trauma combine. This becomes especially important looking to the future as the victim base changes from primarily mountaineers to skiers who are now in ever increasing numbers skiing "Backcountry Freeride/Touring" and "Splitboarding".

To reiterate: Opinion from some might lead the public to believe that trauma is the main killer in Scottish avalanches. This is not backed up by evidence and may in fact be dangerous as it allows those hearing it to anchor to the precept that "being searchable" and carrying companion rescue equipment is pointless as its not the asphyxia, it's going to be trauma that kills you. This is dangerously misleading in my opinion. Trauma may well be a contributing factor on the time continuum of survival, and in some cases due to the unique nature of Scottish winter climbing Scotland may have some more pure trauma deaths from avalanche.

But, its not a given from data collection (scope for a project for someone) and even if the odds are higher for injury, then unless folk are searchable victims who could be saved from asphyxia will continue to be lost under the snow until its too late. It's also incumbent for folk in avalanche education to give a broader picture as most ski students on an avalanche class will also be going abroad. My own experience is that its a trip to an unfamiliar country or wish to explore more off piste at an alpine resort that triggers folk taking an avalanche class as much as it is wanting to be aware of the Scottish conditions. We need to continue to give the bigger picture.

Further reading should include: 

Causes of death from avalancheBrugger HEtter HJBoyd JFalk M. 

Cause of death in avalanche fatalitiesMcIntosh SEGrissom CKOlivares CRKim HSTremper B.

USA figures are not too dissimilar to Europe but World studies and the numbers involved are much larger.

Some Scottish MR teams already have Recco as part of their search strategy (Tayside, Glencoe, Cairngorm MRT/Ski Patrol) and Nevis Range, Glencoe Ski Patrol's. A good thing. I can imagine nothing worse than a victim recovery delayed because a search team did not have a detector and the victim is found to have either a Recco reflector or a harmonic on them.

Every avalanche professional including Recco, and the clothing manufacturers, endorse the view that not getting avalanched, through education and training is better than needing any search devices which may be too late. However, in the real world shit still happens and unless someone is "searchable" a rescuer cannot find them readily, even if the poor victim has bottomed out of the survival curve. We should not forget Robert Burnett's remarkable 22 hour survival in the Southern Cairngorms or the survivors at Nevis Range ski area who were buried for 18 hours.

All victims surely deserve the benefit of the doubt and rescuers throwing all resources at an attempt for a live recovery.
Small sticky reflectors that can be attached to boots or helmets and are available at Nevis Range
As "off piste" and "Back Country" skiing grows in popularity there is every reason to imagine that being more searchable can save lives. Nothing can replace education and prevention, or fast effective companion rescue with beacon, shovel and probe, but as ski patrol and MR teams take up Recco, and the reflectors can be bought and carried, then the chance of getting found alive by organised rescue if on scene quickly increases. I would recommend two reflectors to mountaineers, One front top and one back bottom.

So Recco is here in Scotland and its great to see the take up by some enlightened Scottish rescuers adopting alpine best practise. Who knows when Recco will save a life, but if it does it's job then its been  money well spent.
Live recovery of a victim located by her Recco reflector  from 1.5m winter 2016

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Black Swan

I am reading a philosophy book. I like philosophy and it runs in the family. This particular book was one highly recommended to folk working in avalanche education which I do a little. Much is currently made of the human thinking traps with heuristics being the topic in vogue among professionals. Clearly there are thinking traps. And if we are aware of them maybe we can change our actions. 20:20 hindsight it's easy to see the mistakes. Thinking forward is not so easy. Do we only learn backwards...............

"Before the discovery of Australia, people in the Old World were convinced that all swans were white, an unassailable belief as it seemed completely confirmed by empirical evidence. The sighting of the first black swan might have been an interesting surprise for a few ornithologists (and others extremely concerned with the colouring of birds), but that is not where the significance of the story lies. It illustrates a severe limitation to our learning from observations or experience and the fragility of our knowledge. One single observation can invalidate a general statement derived from millenia of confirmatory sightings of millions of white swans. All you need is one single (and, I am told, quite ugly) black bird" 

We humans have a bias for the anecdotal rather than empirical and as the book above challenges, even empirical data can be wrong. But, in science its all about proof and the requires research and if its from more than one source then these empirical "black swans" are less likely as we increase certainty. Everything including travelling in avalanche terrain is managing uncertainty. As the cause of death in avalanches is researched by many alpine nations there is a lot of good data to support the statistic that folk mostly die because they either cant breath, or what they are breathing is not rich in oxygen.

I wouldn't say the book is to every body's taste but much like "Thinking Fast- Thinking Slow" and "Managing Risk in Extreme Environments" and even "The Checklist Manifesto" it's another take on how we think and how we learn from our mistakes. If we learn from our mistakes? may well be the take home from the above book, as when we change how we think with hindsight, we maybe just move the uncertainty somewhere else. You probably need a good strong hash cookie with your' coffee for this book.

I have re bought an old favourite book which is one of the few that rivalled "The Avalanche Enigma" it's called "The Avalanche Hunters". I am enjoying going back to these old books and realising that our knowledge of the subject has not had a quantum leap and these old tomes still teach lots. These books were all important to me as way back early to mid 1970's there was little formal training. We were fortunate in GMRT that Hamish was well connected and brought folk across to run training from Europe, and as early adopters had the first transceivers, but on understanding the subject a lot of self learning was needed.

I reflect back and realise we never really applied much of it to ourselves and skied off piste with total bravado ignoring things that happened to other people. Skiing back to Verbier off piste with Fiona's dad and a group after coming off Mont Gele, then the group of three strangers behind gets killed later is just one example, and it horrifies me to look back at the sheer stupidity and randomness. As we were with friends in a group it was total group think and feeling safety in numbers. Another example in Switzerland was saying nothing when Fiona skied the back route down to Rougment off the Videmannette with a high risk with Roger and then getting lost in the dark. These were mere tasters to ducking the ropes later trips and bollockings from pisteurs. One time they even stopped the cable car above us as we ducked into a 45deg horror fest. As on ski patrol now, I would arrest myself! These trips were not package tours but often two or three week stays in Chalets of lifelong friends of Fiona's parents so the skiing was pretty immersive and full on with a lot of group bravado. All bad stuff in avalanche terrain.

I often wondered if it was MR that made me interested in the subject but looking back its the sum of lots of parts that all add up, and ski near misses and realisation that your were an ignorant fool - that's probably the biggest one!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Stac an Eich - Creagallen Update

I had a wander up to the crag today and despite it looking impassable over the wind blow, there is a really easy route around the tree's.  All the routes are surprisingly clean, even Autan and although I didn't go up round the corner to the easier right hand routes they looked doable from below. Hard to believe there could be 4 to 8 folk climbing on here on a regular basis and quite a social with a fire at the bottom under the overhang - sometimes with beers. 

Makes me keen again. But I sold all my gear 4 years ago when I hurt my back and thought that was it as I had to learn to walk. Now back climbing again and getting into it I went and looked at ropes and making up a rack. It's not going to happen at the prices in Fort William so the good old days of soloing will have to return, but not on these routes as too steep and nippy.

Nice easy walk from the memorial cairn sign up behind the spruce then along below a wee crag
The wee crag looks like some one has climbed a  route which looks nippy but nice
Left line is "Autan" and the middle one shows "Shuttlecock" pitch 2 up onto the block then the airy step out. Also shows the escape route from the belay to the fixed gear. Two other routes arrive at that belay the best of which is Murray Hamiltons 6b which starts in the recess below Shuttlecock and goes up to the spike that isn't into the crack that kind of is. Ferocious!
Looking across to the upper dihedral of Shuttlecock to the top of the 1st belay. There is an alternative 5b start up and through the twisted tree shown but the best start is from the bottom on the flat bit and up into the corner as the gear is better and the hold good despite how it looks.
Left is one of Gary Latters 6b's and right is "Bill's Diggers Fucked" by Cubby. There is a story to the route name but not for on here! This route is ferocious so you have been warned although there is gear!
The central corner of "Marathon" which even the legendary Joe Brown climbed with me once. He led! Joe was a regular visitor to the area often with Mo Anthoine. Either working on film projects with Hamish (Spacewalk/Freakout live OB) or just climbing with Paul Moore's or Ian. He was still leading E4 6a at 60+ and the above corner was a piece of piss to him. I have done it many times (Fiona was a first ascensionist after Ed led it) and the gear is really good. It's a bit thrutchy and the top move left requires agility and it can also be done direct on finger jams. E1 5b if you climb on grit and E2 5c if you haven't. The slab on the left was climbed by Mark Macgowan (Face) and pokey. On the right is Gunnslinger. The lower off is a big block that you drop a sling over and at one point I may have held it a bit and pulled on it!
Looking at the short but brutal Gunnshot or is it Monument (at least I think its called that?)
Autan on the left and showing where Murray's 6b goes. There are 3 more E4 6b/c to the right of these between Murrays route and Bills Digger but I don't remember their names although I am sure they are in some sort of guide to highland outcrops or maybe even the Glencoe guide. I have no guidebooks having once sold them all for bike gear.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Roadside Routes in Glencoe

I surfed through the UKC crag data base. Its pretty extensive and includes most of the crags around Glencoe, many of which are overlooked by their grander big brothers up the hills. I was quite surprised they were listed, but also a bit disappointed that most had seen little traffic over the years and were now getting overgrown and neglected. For an area full of climbers the local ones seem reluctant to  climb or maintain these crags. I guess there is just too much choice now or folk maybe just don't climb as much as we did. I don't think there was a weekend or evening if it was dry that we were not out or away somewhere climbing. Until kids came along and it was reduced but never stopped and then they climbed as well.
All our kids can climb. Some thought required on keeping them safe when little and "the leader must not fall" are all part of the parental equation. Fiona climbed and skied with all our kids but we always discussed and put some thought into it and as an example would never ski a busy day as the risk of accidental collision is too high. Duncan belaying me on "Flying Dutchman". Now he leads F7c and it's me who's struggling.
Some crags like "Banana Buttress" has first ascents listed on UKC. The folk doing this wouldn't have been aware that there isn't a square foot of that crag that hadn't been climbed many times over by bar staff going back to the 1960's. Even the crag above this had an aid route on it and the Quarry was full of boulder problems (and often poo from campers). One challenge was the complete traverse without stepping onto the boulder (V3).

At the end of the road where it joins the A82 a stream gully come of the Aonach Eagach. A ten minute walk up and there is a crag with a crack line full of pegs and an overhang which was used for aid practise by Glencoe Climbing school in the 60's/70's. I free climbed it at about E2/5c and there is a stiff pull over the overhang. It's a bit of fun  although short. I wouldn't trust the pegs.

Going up the Glen, at the Gorge/meeting of three waters the obvious crack up the crag just across the river is a really good fun at HVS and has very good gear. It had wooden wedges in it at one time which have rotted out. Next to it on the left is an E2 taking a thin crack which is nippy with a move across requiring a bold move right and some heather pulling to join the same route. The HVS is good and a lot better than it looks so well worth it when dry. Behind there is a dry river gorge running all the way down to the stream from the Lost Valley. Out across from this is a band of promising looking crags which are actually not that good but there is a severe on the left "Alans Arete" which is a bit of fun on clean rock in a couple of pitches and has a nice outlook.
The Drey Crag
The Drey Crag" above the road with the hut set into it. This was the Edinburgh "Squirrels" hut. They are no longer, but luminaries included Dougal Haston and Jimmy Marshall. There used to be guide to the crag on the inside of the hut door.  It's a bit scrappy but a few routes, and the best is the obvious rock dyke with a small bulge to get around, no gear though from that point and its about severe. There is a harder crack and smooth bulge to the right of this (bold at the top) and to the left of the dyke there was a VS and on the extreme left a short V Diff chimney.

Above the Drey there are "The Red Walls" and slabs with boulder problems that catch the evening sun and are a lot of fun. You can make it easy or hard as the rock is excellent and the landings ok.
Mike Hall and I playing on "The Red Walls" above the Drey
Back in the dry gorge. Halfway down on the north side there is a clean crag with a crack exiting from a small overhang with a peg which is a good HVS. Used to be called "The Squirrels Crack" I think as it was Kenny Spence who did it but it may now have another name.  Further down still is a short "leaning wall" which gets the evening sun and has about six routes by me from E15b to an E2 5c/6a (Crimp) on the right that had very small wires as pro.

Back up the gorge leading to Allt na Righ coming down from the A82 is "The Bendy" with routes from the E1b Jim l' Fix It by me on the lower left, to an E4 by Murray Hamilton and an E4 by Gary Latter and I. I did Simmering Psycho which had a peg runner at the top as the cracks were blind and micro wires wouldn't fit. E3/5c and good natural pro to that point then finishing up a groove rather  more natural than the blanker walls of the harder routes and their exploding crimpy holds and RP pro. These crags were clean and well climbed at one time, so its shame folk don't re-clean and climb them now. Its a bit like the mountain bike trails I guess, folk wait for other folk to put the work in then they get to climb/ride. 

Some advice on when to climb these routes, if you want to try them.  The Bendy is a morning crag  it gets the sun early. The leaning wall at the bottom of the dry gorge is a spring crag or early evening summer as it catches the late afternoon sun and as its got a really nice outlook and grassy bottom so its a lovely spot with a cracking pool for a swim on the way back.

It would be nice to see folk enjoying these routes and although the main loose rock work was done years ago, they will require a brush up to clean them.  Or just go for it!

Stac an Eich or Creagallan as we new it, is the granite crag reached via the road to the memorial cairn past the golf course. It had a few easier routes on its west end facing the evening sun. Slabs such as Appin groove, or the rib to its left were soloed by me and are good fun at about VS. Right of Appin groove there were a couple of stiff boulder problem slab routes, and to the right of what we used as a decent gully a steep well protected wall route of HVS with lower from a tree.

The main crag routes are all in the outcrops guide and a bit like grit routes being quite pumpy. Shuttlecock on the east (far left) up the obvious corner is a cracker with good pro, and the original finish (pitch 2) went up a leaning block and had a step across and then up. Great situation and views from that belay. The top block of pitch 2 was pretty hollow but if its still there since 1983 could be ok. An alternative is to belay at the top of the corner and then move right and up to where the central corner exits where there was some fixed gear I left 35 years ago! There is also a direct start from lower down leading into the lower pitch which is about 5b/c. We tended to ab off which was a free abseil and part of the fun. Have an auto block as back up!
George Reid gets off the ground on Shuttlecock pitch 1 1982
Left of Shuttlecock there were another two routes including "Autan" which took the big area of granite above. Probably all covered now. A team with bow saws could really open up what was a great evening crag that often had a sea breeze in the sun, and was a popular often noisy venue as folk cursed up the routes which although a bit fierce are well protected if you can hang on. A pint in the Ferry bar often followed!
Me finishing Shuttlecock about to step left from the block pitch 2 original finish
Across the the Loch at Onich the obvious white wall above the A82 to Fort William has three routes. The faint crack on the left side by Kenny Spence/Fyffe is about E1/5b and I put a direct 5b finish on if you continue straight up and over the bulge. The three star route is the obvious crack system on the right which is as good a crag route as anywhere in Lochaber. Well protected by nuts and cams it's a steady E2/5b with the techiest bit just as you get established and get some gear in. This bit is where most folk back off as it can seem damp but as this bit of crag overhangs the drips are in space. Then its steady but pumpy on good holds to the top of what feels like a long pitch. It does lean over a bit! I think this was also Spence/Fyffe route and had an aid peg although we never found one and we free climbed it many times over the years. There is an eliminate 6a between the two crack lines but its a bit contrived. The "Right Hand" route is three star and don't be put off by the start up through the trees and bushes and stepping off the ledge. The gear comes and the climbing is good. Makes a nice evening doing both routes.

Further down and obvious above Kentallen bay is a Limestone crag. Best reached from an easy walk across the hill from Duror hall or a straight bushwhack up the sheep tracks from the parking at the old pier or cycle track. All the routes have steep boulder starts and then nice slabs and grooves with gear to finish. Belays were a bit scarce at the top but maybe the birch trees have grown and will be stronger. "Prawn" was a nice VS and Ed Grindly had "up periscope" 6a. I think Gary Latter did a route and rumour had it Dave MacLeod. On the left edge there is a rock recess and there were was good route by Bob Hamilton up the corner at HVS and I had two HVS's on the right and an E4/6a on the left of it which was never topped out due to water. The evening views from this crag are stunning and due to sea breeze its usually midge free.
Kentallen Bay Crag
The Lettershuna crag in Appin is more open now and has two E1's on its right end from Steve Kennedy 15 years ago. There are a few routes in the Ballachulish Quarry also. A red slab on the tier above the first stakes, the rib left of the polished slab, and the slab tucked away further in with the diagonal traverse line and three routes up tiny quartz wrinkles that I soloed some 30 years ago. A few bolts would maybe make them safer!

There isn't much new folks, but if you take care of what there is and look around I bet there is a lot more roadside cragging to be had locally. Personally I would love to see some sports routes on a previously written off non trad crag somewhere. I dunno, maybe port Appin or near bye. Its nice to have variety and fun without the big walks. Lettershuna now its open would be a top sport venue. Any takers?

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Know Before You Go at Glencoe

Winter is a great time to be in Lochaber. We are blessed with two ski areas both of which offer vastly different views and an experience both on and away from marked trails. Mountaineers also flock to the area as Scottish winter mountaineering is legendary requiring a toughness and resilience in often adverse weather, but amply rewarded by unique rime and ice formation or snow ice if you persevere.

If you’re a skier, then its “freshies” which are the holy grail. These first few tracks down a pristine slope with six inches or more of new snow are what it’s all about. Scottish powder snow is less Champagne and a bit more Sauternes but equally nice to float the wide skis down in big carving arcs of sweetness.

Whether mountaineer or skier, when the fresh snow comes its usually got wind behind it and somewhere on a lee slope the build-up of snow will be deep.  Avalanches tend to occur on slopes of an angle of about 30 to 50 degrees where this snow lays, and are most often triggered by the additional load of the victims. Sadly, many Scottish Corries have streams and gulches/gullies at the bottom and these trap the victim and so bury them deeply.

Folk need to “Know Before You Go”  

Get the gear and carry an avalanche beacon so you can be located, and which will also search for your friends. Three essentials including the Beacon also includes: Carrying a snow probe so a victim can be precisely located, and having a good alu shovel so you can dig someone out. Also, consider adding two Recco reflectors so your more searchable. Mountaineers shun the three essentials but Recco reflectors might at least give them a chance
Get some training on how to understand how avalanches occur, common cognitive mistakes and thinking traps that make us ignore obvious danger signs, and conditions. This will include how to interpret the weather and avalanche forecast and some basic understanding of snow crystals and how strong and weak layers’ form within a snow pack, also on how to search and dig out a victim and look after them. Glencoe Mountain has a state of the art training park for folks to practice with their avalanche beacons and digging and the ski patrol are always happy to give advice. I run some avalanche training up at Glencoe so please contact me via my web site for more information.

Get the forecast. Never go out without reviewing the weather for the day ahead and always look at the Scottish avalanche service forecast (SAIS) and take heed of the risk level and the forecasters observations. The bulk of avalanche incidents do not happen when the risk level is high but when its lower as folk assume it’s safe. Always bear in mind there is never no risk, just a lower risk.

Get the big picture and become a good observer of the precipitation, wind loading and conditions around you and underfoot, and add that to the information from the avalanche forecast and be prepared to change your objectives. The avalanche forecast is an area forecast and a Corrie or mountain may well have very different avalanche risk from local wind and weather effects. Look for “Red Flag" signs of recent avalanches, cracking or collapsing snow, new snow and drifting snow, also rapid thaw conditions. If these are observed, then change your route to a safer one or cancel your day and retreat.

Stay out of harm’s way. With the big picture, you will be looking around you and adjusting your risk assessment constantly. If a mountaineer look above you as someone may trigger a cornice collapse which takes you out. You may commit yourself into enclosed terrain where, if an avalanche spontaneously triggers you have nowhere to run. A ski tourer might skin up into similar terrain and be trapped. Or, if dropping into a Corrie you could be taken into a terrain trap as mentioned before. If its misty or a whiteout you have no way of knowing who or what is below you and if it does avalanche your friends cannot see you from above and may be unaware.

Terrain Trap - No where to go and buried deeply!

Important Considerations Before the Point of No Return, or Dropping In

Angle. Most avalanches are triggered on slopes roughly between 30 and 50 degrees. Below 30 degrees’ victim triggered slab avalanches are less common and above this angle slopes purge more frequently. The "Sweet Spot" where most avalanches are triggered is about 40 ish degrees with over 90% of victim triggered slides occurring in a 7-degree range bracketing that sweet spot. You can conclude from this that angle is an important part of slope assessment and subtle changes of angle on a given slope can have major consequences, therefore route choice and awareness of slope angle is important. Modern phone apps make judging the angle much easier. Rule of thumb for me personally is that as the avalanche forecast risk for a given altitude and aspect goes up - then the angle and altitude of what you ski comes down.

Anchors. What is the snowpack connected to? Have you been following the weather and avalanche forecast? Are there weak layers within the snowpack? Tree's and rocks can hold a slope as your friend or can be weak spots as your enemy where sun, heat, graupel or hoar frost has gathered. Subtle angle changes create trigger points at these places. Tree's are also natures cheese grater if you get taken into them. Ask yourself what the slope you are on is linked into from the underlying snowpack. Unstable snowpacks can often propagate a collapse into nearby slopes and draw an avalanche into lower angled terrain.

Aspect. Which compass direction does the slope you want to ski or travel face. Like angle, subtle changes in aspect can take you from a safe slope onto a loaded one. Carry a compass and learn about "slope aspect" i.e. which way it faces, as both a navigation and safe travel tool.  The SAIS forecast gives you the necessary hazard warning for compass direction but you need to apply it on the ground accurately. Some phone apps can help with this and even give you the area forecast 

Altitude. You can see by looking at the SAIS forecast that the hazard risk is most often greater with altitude, even in Scotland. The rate of snow deposition is higher with height, and the wind is also stronger increasing side loading of slopes. On dodgy days stay lower as well as skiing lower angled slopes

Complexity. As mentioned above. Be aware of subtle changes in angle and aspect and that localised instabilities are hidden and like a landmine can link one triggered mine to a chain reaction and a small slide gathering surrounding instabilities into a major avalanche event. Learn to read mapping for subtleties of terrain features and how snow may be affected, and think safety by pre-imagining what could go wrong. If it's a complex route, then it’s often unsafe as there are too many unknowns. Learn to know what you don't know!

Commitment. Always have a plan "B" so that if conditions change or are not what you expected you have another safer option. Commitment to a slope can mean no bail out options, i.e. having nowhere to go.  If you look at the pros on YouTube they choose their line so they can bale out onto a spine and have good runouts, and that's where the next "C" comes into play - consequences.

Consequences. If it’s an amber light's on in your head so you’re in a go/no go process, then add consequence into the thought mix. Are there crags, hollows, stream beds, tree's or any other terrain features that could shred you or trap you if there is an avalanche.

Micro terrain can have macro consequences 
So, as a final thought. Get the gear, get the training, get the forecast, get the big picture, and stay out of harm’s way. 

Davy Gunn
Avalanche Educator and Instructor