Tips for Winter Recreation Safety in Central Washington
Winter has overtaken Central Washington, and outdoor recreation lovers are thrilled! Activities like snowmobiling, skiing, and snowboarding are more than just winter sports, they are a lifestyle and point of pride for many Central Washington residents and visitors. Whether you are familiar with winter recreation or not, we want you to stay safe and be prepared for all of the exciting adventures you will embark on. We’ve put together some basic tips to get you ready to safely explore the Central Washington wilderness this winter!
DRIVING & PERSONAL PREPARATION
– Even if it’s a short trip to the ski hill, it’s always a good idea to carry water, snacks, warm blankets, a flashlight, first-aid kit, a windshield scraper, and jumper cables in your car at all times. If you don’t already have these safety essentials, you can pick up many of the items as well as receive additional recommendations from local retailers like Cle Elum Farm & Home, the Old Mill Country Store, or Cavallini’s Pharmacy.
– Make sure your tires have plenty of tread and keep at least a half tank full of fuel at all times to reduce the chances of your car sliding in the snow or ice – here in Central Washington, we’d like to reserve that fun for the ski hill or ice rink.
– Remember to pack layers, including a warm insulating fleece or wool, and a waterproof outer layer. If you are hiking, don’t wear them all at once, keep an extra layer out to throw on when you stop. Forgot to pack extra clothing? Shop these local retailers before you set off on your next outdoor adventure.
– Don’t forget to eat! Calories not only keep your energy levels up, but they also help you stay warm. Explore local restaurants in advance and have a plan for where you will fuel up before each activity throughout the day.
SNOWMOBILING, SKIING & SNOWBOARDING
– Being on the mountain is all about having fun, but remember that others are there to do the same. Have consideration and respect for everyone on the slopes to help ensure a great day on the mountain for all.
– All of your winter favorites, including tubing, snowmobiling, skiing, and snowboarding, come with significant speed and unforeseen obstacles. Be sure to always wear a helmet… just in case!
– Understand your fitness and ability level. No, you don’t have to be a fit marathon runner to enjoy snow sports, but it’s important to work within your own limits. Pace yourself, don’t venture too far from resting places, and don’t overdo it.
– You may be sweating a lot more than you realize and can become dehydrated long before you even feel thirsty. It is important that you start the day hydrated and stay that way until your very last run. Although it may seem like a good idea to grab a beer in the lodge between runs, alcohol won’t replenish your body fluids as well as plain water, so save toasting with the good stuff until after you are off the slopes for the day.
The steep Central Washington mountains are what makes winter such a blast, but exploring extreme slopes also means bringing caution to your winter adventures. While groomed trails are placed to avoid areas prone to avalanches, unpredictable snow conditions and erratic weather patterns can create an avalanche at any time. Be aware of the terrain around you and avoid areas that look unsafe. Things to watch out for include recent avalanches, signs of unstable snow, heavy rain or snow in the past 24 hours, and significant warming or rapidly increasing temperatures. Ensure a safe and enjoyable outing by checking on avalanche conditions before you go.
IMPORTANT CONTACT INFORMATION:
– Mountain Pass Report: Call 511, 500-695-7623, or 206-368-4499, or visit the Washington State Department of Transportation website.
– Highway Advisory Radio Service: 1610 AM or 530 AM
– Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center website
– Washington State Parks Winter Recreation Program: 360-902-8684
Now that you’re knowledgeable of winter safety, it’s time to get out there and explore! Discover all of the ways to adventure outdoors this season in Central Washington and book your winter weekend getaway now.