Know Before You Go is a free avalanche awareness program developed to help you see the destructive power of avalanches, understand when and why they happen, and how you can have fun in the mountains and avoid avalanches.


What is Know Before You Go?

Know Before You Go is a free avalanche awareness program. Not much science, no warnings to stay out of the mountains, no formulas to memorize. In 1 hour, you will see the destructive power of avalanches, understand when and why they happen, and how you can have fun in the mountains and avoid avalanches.

Vail Know Before You Go Event

In late November our Vail location held a Know Before You Go event. Over 40 people showed up to listen as Kelli Rohrig, local avalanche professional, informed the audience of essential avalanche practices and procedures. Kelli answers questions, gives reasoning to snow physics and why avalanches happen. We understand the value this information brings to the backcountry community and wanted to release it to anyone in need, please share this blog post with someone that is new or even interested in backcountry travel- it's a must see.

For Vail locals, a detailed map of East Vail has been published to help our backcountry community. Over the generations, East Vail ski descents have produced different names for the same lines. This map was designed to verify locations of incidents; to get ski patrol, backcountry skiers, and emergency responders all on the same page. Download a version to your smartphone to have for your personal reference, it will help when snow hits the fan.


Map of East Vail main bowl


Map of East Vail chutes

KBYG’s five steps of preparation

  1. Get the gear
  2. Get the knowledge
  3. Get the forecast
  4. Get the picture
  5. Get out of harms way

 Preparation and Practice

Kelli emphasized the importance of being prepared prior to venturing into the backcountry. The backcountry is notoriously a dangerous place but it doesn’t have to be. Make sure your friends have the right gear and more importantly know how to use it! A beacon, probe, shovel doesn't help unless the individual has practice with it. Practice? Yes, we are talking about practice. Meadow Mountain, near Minturn, is putting in a beacon park for the community to practice. The purpose of the beacon park is to practice your backcountry skills in zero avalanche terrain, so when the emergency arises you react instead of think.

If you would like to watch the entire Know Before You Go event from our Vail shop, here is a Facebook live video from the event.

Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Lastly, Kelli stressed the importance of checking Colorado Avalanche Information Center: Vail & Summit County avalanche report on a daily basis. CAIC is a not for profit organization with the main focus of education Colorado's backcountry goers. Every day there is an avalanche forecast, signs to look out for and directional faces that are prone to sliding. CAIC only has so much impact and they look to the community to provide intel. To Submit an Observation is to provide feedback from your own field research. Any help can significantly change what CAIC looks at as a hazard. If you're afraid of being scrutinized for the incident you can choose to post anonymously.

We appreciate the support from our local avalanche community. Knowledge is power especially when it comes to the backcountry, don't make the foolish decision of venturing into the backcountry without the necessary knowledge.

Stay safe out there friends, and be sure to check out all of our upcoming local events.


Brian Zig