Fresh avalanches from the past day or two. An obvious sign of instability.

Credit: Crested Butte Avalanche Center

Natural or human-triggered avalanches in the past 48 hours are the number one sign of instability. Simply put, if you see avalanches occurring on their own, or you see someone trigger an avalanche, the odds are pointing towards more of the same.  Fresh avalanches often have sharp, well-defined edges and crown lines. Older avalanches appear softer and less defined, and their debris and bed surfaces are covered by subsequent snow.

Recent natural avalanche activity: a clear sign of unstable snow. Credit: Crested Butte Avalanche Center


Human triggered avalanches are an obvious red flag. Credit: Sawtooth Avalanche Center