Avalanche Safety

A panoramic photo of backcountry skiers crossing the top of a steep slope below a blue sky.

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:

1. Be Avalanche Aware

Do you know when it's safe to go? Get training to ensure that you have a solid understanding of avalanche awareness.

2. Check Avalanche Forecasts

Note that there is no forecast for the park. Read area forecasts and recent observations to evaluate risk.

3. Plan Your Route

Review the Southwest Area Avalanche Map to select a route appropriate for the conditions and your ability.

4. Carry Avalanche Gear

Carry a shovel, probe, avalanche transceiver/beacon and know how to use them.


Avalanche Awareness

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.

Get Training

Even expert backcountry users refresh their avalanche training regularly to improve their safety. Avalanche.org recommends the following series for recreationists:

  1. Avalanche Awareness: Take the free online tutorial to gain an introduction to the avalanche phenomenon, causes, and risk. Learn where you can find the gear, resources, and training to responsibly enjoy winter recreation. Begin to recognize and avoid avalanche terrain.
  2. Level 1 Avalanche: A three-day course will introduce you to the concepts of avalanche hazard assessment, decision-making, and rescue. This is a cornerstone course for any person who travels in snowy mountainous terrain.
  3. Avalanche Rescue: One-day course focuses exclusively on how to be prepared and respond to an avalanche incident.
  4. Level 2 Avalanche: Further hone your hazard assessment and decision-making skills. Begin to understand how to choose terrain to match the current avalanche conditions.

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.


Avalanche Forecasts

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.

Forecasts from the following nearby areas may provide some information on regional conditions, but may not reflect conditions in the park.


Plan Your Route

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:

  • Choose the safest route for the conditions you observe. Avoid hazards and have alternatives ready.
  • View winter routes in the Southwest Area or the Manzanita Lake Area.
  • Note that distances take longer over snow-covered routes, even along the park highway.
  • Travel with a partner and know your abilities.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
Two stacked photos. Top: a man skis past a sign that reads "Are You Beeping." Bottom: one man holds a beacon out toward another man skiing past him in a snowy mountain landscape.
Backcountry users should perform a beacon check before beginning their route.

Avalanche Safety Gear

Snow Shovel

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.

Beacon Check

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.

Five images in a row: a snow shovel, collapsible pole, beacon, and beacon checker with a green circle and another with a red x.
Avalanche equipment is available from multiple manufacturers. The items above are provided for example only.

Backcountry Access (BCA)

Last updated: January 19, 2024

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