The Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center uses three elevation bands, above treeline, near treeline and below treeline:

Credit: Crested Butte Avalanche Center

Avalanche hazards often vary with elevation due to differences in snowfall, wind, temperature, and tree cover. You may see reference to a specific altitude (in meters or feet above sea level), or more commonly, forecasters use elevation bands to categorize dangers and avalanche problems. Paying attention to your elevation is essential for managing avalanche hazards; hazards often change with elevation.

Avalanche forecasts often clump hazards into elevation bands, such as “above treeline”, as illustrated (gray) in this distribution rose and corresponding terrain graphic.

To use elevation bands, you need to understand the terrain you are traveling in and the avalanche problems that are present in each band. You can then use this information to make informed decisions about your route and the terrain you will be traveling through. It is important to note that the daily avalanche forecast is only a starting place for terrain choice and decision making in avalanche terrain. Many other factors contribute to safe travel in the mountains including human factors such as biases, heuristics and communication amongst team members.