Three variables interact to determine the possibility or likelihood that an avalanche might occur. YOU are in the middle of this "Avalanche Triangle" at right. In order to maximize your safety YOU need to continually update your assessment of all three variables including:
Terrain: the slope must be steep enough to avalanche. Always be aware of changes in elevation, aspect and slope angle.
Snowpack: the snow must be unstable enough to avalanche. Stay aware of changes in snow texture, layering and bonding as you move from slope to slope.
Weather: Weather is another important variable. Changing weather can quickly increase instability. In the Northwest when temperatures often hover near freezing, minor changes can make major differences in snowpack stability.