Our goal on all trips is to have fun and play in as much powder as we can, but priority number 1 is safety. We pride ourselves on being the best when it comes to knowledge of the backcountry, snow safety and understanding weather and how it effects the mountains and access to them. Countless hours are spent studying each and every aspect the Ruby Mountain Range to ensure the safety of our groups, which is then handed down during guest orientation and updates each morning.
Each group of four skiers is accompanied by a professional guide, all of whom have extensive back country experience and are meticulously trained in the use of transceivers and rescue procedures, as well as in monitoring the snowpack and avalanche conditions. The guides, as well as the helicopters are equipped with radios, first aid and rescue gear.
All skiers wear avalanche transceivers and are instructed in their use through hands on drills during an orientation and training session prior to the start of skiing on the first day. This orientation and training session also covers backcountry helicopter safety, procedures on the mountain and ways to maximize safety for everyone in the group.
In 2016 Ruby partnered with Scott Sports becoming the first lower 48 helicopter skiing operation to require all guests wear an airbag. The 12 L Scott airbag is one of the lightest and smallest airbags on the market, making it appealing to our operation. Each guest will be issued an airbag upon arrival at Ruby.
Avalanche hazards are a constant consideration in the Ruby Mountains or in any backcountry or powder skiing situation. Avalanches commonly occur in the mountain terrain used in helicopter and snowcat skiing and may be caused by natural forces including the steepness of slopes, snow depth, instability of the snowpack, changing weather conditions, or by participating individual skiers.
We are supported by weather data shared by radio and computer networks throughout the western United States and our guides are linked together by sophisticated radio communications. These guides work both individually and together with other guides on the mountain and through operations at Dispatch Base. We use discretion when assessing weather and avalanche conditions in route finding and run selection.
At times, the elements may work against our desire to ski an area that we might otherwise want to ski. We must all be content to ski where the guides believe that our risks are minimized. However, no matter what techniques we use, what precautions we take, or the training level of the guides, there are going to be dangers and elements of risk beyond our control. Each skier must be aware of and must assume the risk and danger associated with an avalanche and backcountry skiing. Mother Nature must always be treated with great respect.
Helicopters are exciting and sophisticated aircraft. They require the utmost respect. Please pay close attention during orientation. Ask questions if anything is not clear to you. Risks associated with helicopter crashes and rotor blades are among the additional risks posed by helicopter travel in mountains area and winter weather conditions.
Check out the following websites for more information on snow/avalanche safety, weather patterns and backcountry safety...
American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education: One of the very best resources for avalanche education, courses and awareness online.
Forest Service National Avalanche Center: A collection of avalanche centers around the world with information on snow, weather and coursework all over. Online tutorials for understanding the details behind avalanches and course providers in your area.
Canadian Avalanche Center: A leader in avalanche safety and education, learn more about the gear, tools and planning associated with avalanche safety and preparedness.
Teton Gravity Research: An extensive collection on avalanche safety videos and lessons.