A key part of backcountry skiing safety is putting together a backcountry skiing preplan before you go out. Regardless of the length of your backcountry skiing plan ahead, going through the exercise of a preplan is worthwhile. To see a good template for a preplan, visit www.adventuresmart.ca and follow the links for their Trip Plan for Outdoor Survival Form (available in five languages). To be effective, a part of your preplan must be designating a responsible person (RP) who is not going on the tour and with whom you leave the information you gather. In essence, the preplan exercise ensures that you have thought about things in advance and worked through various scenarios. Look before you leap.
Some, but not all, of the components of a preplan and preplanning are:
1. Knowledge of the weather - past, present and future.
2. Avalanche Bulletin (after evaluating 1 & 2, is it still wise to go?).
3. Local knowledge - talk to ski patrol, guides, other skiers.
4. A destination and route provided to your RP. Stick with it.
5. A set return time (when you should be back) and a call time (the time to call for help). The latter being a few hours after the return time to allow for any non-emergency issues like running out of gas, etc.
6. An emergency number (or numbers), for your RP to call if you’re not back at the call time.
7. A call to your RP when you get back (most important). If not, they may call the local authorities and time and resources will be wasted.