Snow safety experts were looking for ways to reduce deaths in the future after a record number of deaths occurred during the 2020/21 snow season. Jeff Banks was one of the experts who announced recently a new subscription app that will help users plan safe backcountry tours.
“Everybody who lives in a mountain town pretty much knows someone who has died in an avalanche,” says Banks in a video introduction to AspectAvy. Banks himself has lost 12 friends and colleagues and notes that professionals are just as likely to be caught in avalanches: “They have about two near-death experiences with avalanches a year.”
AspectAvy is a tool that combines data from local avalanche center, weather forecasts topo maps, and avalanche statistics in order to identify areas with high and low risk. The app shares a clear message for the day like “Stick to slopes that are 32-degrees or less,” which is paired with fatality statistics specific to the day’s avalanche problem. It also highlights high-risk zones on a map, and sends alerts via phone or smartwatch when a group member gets too close.
“We coach you every step of the way from your gear check to your tour plan to your beacon trailhead check,” says Banks. At the end, the app will provide a risk score that can be used to debrief the day.
While having an app to help manage risk in the backcountry can’t hurt, it is meant to be paired with the proper training, such as an Avalanche Level 1 course. Banks—an 18-year avalanche education veteran who has worked with everyone from beginners to snow professionals and U.S. Special Forces—has also designed a two-day course that “works hand in glove with the Aspect Avalanche app.”
AspectAvy will be available from Nov. 1, 2023. After a 2-week free trial, an annual subscription will cost $50.
Backcountry Magazine first published Ski GPT – AspectAvy eliminates the guesswork in decision making.