Winter safety

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One aspect of the Coast Mountains that sets it apart from most other ranges in North America is its wetness. While light powder snow conditions are not unusual, neither are rainstorms up to 3000m. Staying warm in this damp climate can be much more difficult than in the dry, cold weather one encounters in interior ranges.

Weather in the Coast Range can change very quickly. This makes it essential to bring complete rain gear on any trip, regardless of how clear the skies are or what the weather forecast predicts.

Clothing and sleeping bags made of down do not perform well in typical coastal conditions; much better are items made of wool, pile, polarguard, or thinsulate. Extra clothing is particularly important on overnight trips, whether camping or staying in a cabin. Most cabins referred to in this guide do not have wood stoves over which to dry wet clothing. In short, when skiing on the coast, expect to get wet. Learn to recognize signs of hypothermia, both in yourself and in others, and know how to treat it.

Heavy rains can turn snow into a porridge-like slush, this can double or triple traveling times. Persons skiing the longer traverses should be prepared for this, and for storm-bound days during which travel may be impossible or made only by compass. Storms often last many days; bring plenty of food and a good book.

The difficult snow conditions and thick brush that characterize the Coast Range can take a heavy toll on both body and equipment. It is essential that every party be equiped with proper first aid kits and repair kits, and know how to use them.

The Coast Range Mountains are more heavily glaciated than any other range on earth at similar latitudes. Quite naturally then, many of the best ski tours traverse glacier and icefields. All parties venturing out on trips involving glacier travel must be properly experienced and equipped; this means skiing roped up, carrying prussik slings and pulleys, and knowing how to use them. Hidden crevasses can lurk on even the most innocent looking glacier.