Expect the unexpected
In essence, once you head out away from the ‘madding crowd’ you need to have your wits about you and to take a series of simple but important precautions. Here are just a few:
· Plan your trip and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
· Study the weather forecast beforehand – the Bureau of Meteorology website (bom.gov.au) is a good one for this – check for high winds, rain/snow and expected temperatures. But expect the unexpected – weather on the Main Range can be highly fickle.
· Wear windproof, waterproof and cold-proof gear – again, expect the unexpected.
· Food and water are critical considerations - take supplies that will last you longer than the time you expect to be away – expect the unexpected.
· Navigation equipment, and knowing how to use it is also critical, even if it is only a compass and map. Take the time to learn how to navigate and don’t just rely on the GPS app on your smartphone –it quickly run out of battery and often relies on network reception that can be non-existent.
· Emergency equipment – always take a personal safety beacon that can be activated to alert emergency rescue services (the national parks office hire them for few dollars); carry a snow shovel and avalanche probe and if possible an avalanche tracking beacon (while avalanches are rare on our snowfields, they do occur and a collapsed cornice, which is common, can be just as devastating if you’re under it!). Again learn how to use these items.
· Don’t ski the backcountry alone. It’s a wonderful but very dangerous place to have that accident, which is always unexpected.