What Do Avalanche Dogs Do?

Someone asked me recently why we have avalanche dogs at the Resort.  Inbounds avalanches are rare, but are a part of the risk of skiing or riding on a mountain - in the event of a slide, our dogs are a great tool in our quiver to expeditiously recover a victim. The greatest risk of a slide occurs when a guest ignores a terrain closure. We put a lot of effort into maintaining rope closures and signage to avoid such mistakes by guests - but we have observed that when guests cross into closed terrain, it's almost always intentional. Our dogs are also available to assist the Sheriff with backcountry searches, but they're only released to help when there's additional dog coverage already on the Resort.


Much effort is put into controlling the snowpack in our avalanche terrain here at PCMR. The goals are to maintain a safe environment for our guests who may be influenced by that terrain.  Snow science is not exact and conditions within the snowpack are constantly changing. But when our Snow Safety Director deems an area is suitable to open, that generally means the risk has been tested and determined to have been reduced to a level consistent with industry standards. 


Patrollers have been caught in slides during avalanche control work. That's why we wear beacons, carry shovels and probes and ski strategically so that in the event we are caught, our partners can extricate us expeditiously.  Our guests rarely wear beacons or carry shovels and probes. They may or may not have a Recco chip sewn into the clothing. In the event of being caught in a slide, a victim's chances of survival decline after 15 to 20 minutes. This is where the avalanche dogs are so important.

Stella trains hard and frequently.  At the end of the day, she knows how to relax.


Stella would be upset if we didn’t include some dog trivia in this Blog.

  • Three dogs were among the Titanic Survivors.  Twelve dogs boarded the ship en route to New York.
  • Dogs turn in circles before lying down instinctively because in the wild this action turns long grass into a bed.
  • Touch is the first sense a dog develops.  Their entire body, including their paws is covered with touch sensitive nerve endings.

Stella and I hope you enjoyed the Blog.  We look forward to seeing you out on the mountain.  Until then, stay safe and enjoy the great conditions we are experiencing now!