Oversnow travel in Lassen Volcanic National Park requires entering avalanche terrain. Each year, avalanches claim more than 150 lives worldwide. Knowledge, information, and equipment are key to preventing and surviving avalanche accidents. To improve your safety when traveling outside of established routes:
Do you know when it's safe to go? Get training to ensure that you have a solid understanding of avalanche awareness.
Note that there is no forecast for the park. Read area forecasts and recent observations to evaluate risk.
Review the Southwest Area Avalanche Map to select a route appropriate for the conditions and your ability.
Carry a shovel, probe, avalanche transceiver/beacon and know how to use them.
Some days are dangerous and some days are not. Learning about avalanches will help you decide when, where, and how to visit the backcountry. Avalanche awareness includes knowing how to recognize red flags, identify avalanche terrain, travel safely, and perform a rescue.
Even expert backcountry users refresh their avalanche training regularly to improve their safety. Avalanche.org recommends the following series for recreationists:
Free Introductory Training
Find a Paid Course
Avalanche.org lists Access American Avalanche Association endorsed course providers by state. Only a few course are offered in Lassen Volcanic National Park each year. Courses are more commonly available in the nearby Mount Shasta area and Lake Tahoe area, which includes Truckee, Donner Pass, and South Lake Tahoe.
There is no avalanche forecast for Lassen Volcanic National Park or the general Lassen area. Backcountry users are encouraged to use the park weather forecast, snow station measurements, and their own observations to evaluate risk.
The Southwest Area of Lassen Volcanic contains steep terrain with numerous hazards. The Southwest Avalanche Hazard Map below highlights avalanche-prone slopes and other hazards including hydrothermal features and rockfall areas. The following actions can help improve your safety in the backcountry:
Avalanche Safety Gear
This is essential for testing snow conditions and quickly digging out victims. A snow shovel is also a critical tool for making snow shelters. Most have detachable or telescoping handles for easy packing. Aluminum blades are light yet strong.
This collapsible pole—similar to a tent pole—can be used to probe for buried avalanche victims by itself or during the pinpoint search with an avalanche transceiver. They are usually made of aluminum or carbon fiber for low weight and above-average strength.
Avalanche Transceiver (Beacon)
Worn on the body, this device emits a pulsed radio signal. If a person gets buried in an avalanche, other transceivers carried by the party pick up the signal emitted from under the snow. The device can only be located it if it is turned on and in transmit mode.
This check helps backcountry users verify that their beacon is turned on and in transmit mode prior to heading out. The check can be done manually with another device in search mode or with a beacon checker like the one below.
Last updated: January 19, 2024