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The fourth season is finally upon us, and so are the complications of adventuring in the snow. If you’re heading into the mountains—and, more specifically, potential avalanche terrain—this tiny tool can be a literal life-saver. The Slope Meter is smaller than a pack of gum, but using it to identify hazardous slopes (usually those between 30 and 45 degrees) from afar will help keep you out of danger. I also find it extremely useful for practicing my “eye”: If I’m already on a (safe) slope, I’ll guess what its angle is. I’ll then use the meter to check the actual reading, which will let me know how close I was. Over time, I’ve become a lot more accurate in my assessments.
If you’re planning on heading into avy terrain often, check out our upcoming January/February issue for an avalanche safety cheat-sheet. Consider taking an AIARE 1 course as well.