SLEDsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 07 - Emergency Prep & Outdoor Survival


Beware of highmarking. This is when you climb a steep slope in one shot to get to the highest point and then turn, creating a big ‘U’ shape. This pathway cuts the snow into a big, heavy, loose chunk and is frequently the cause of avalanches, accounting for more than 50% of the avalanche fatalities involving sleds in North America. If for some reason you must climb to a high point on a slope, or you decide to highmark, follow these safety tips:

  • Stay alert and look for clues of snow instability.
  • Periodically stop your machine and walk around to get a ‘feel’ for the snow around you.
  • If you lose momentum, or reach the top of the peak and need to turn around, use the K-Turn method when possible. Avoid creating the ‘U’ shape, or you may cause an avalanche.


Full-faced helmets have actually saved the lives of avalanche victims because of the built-in air space they provide for the victim. They can prevent head injuries AND prevent suffocation for a temporary amount of time! Always opt for a full-face helmet.


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