Avalanche Safety: The Basics


1. Slope angle

In Europe avalanches release on slopes of more than 28° (25° in North America), for those who like me did not excel in maths in school that equates to a steep red or black run. But beware as there is a difference between where the avalanche releases and where it is triggered. You can trigger an avalanche when standing on a lower angle slope when there are steeper slopes around you.

Avoid: Steep angled slopes and slopes with steep angled slopes around them

2. Snow Stability

If you are skiing with a qualified guide with expert avalanche knowledge you will notice that they can read the snow pack like the back of their hand. For jo-soap this level of knowledge does not come so readily. Snow stability is a crucial consideration and should not be over-looked. When the snow is unstable there is a much higher chance of triggering an avalanche.

All resorts will have avalanche forecasts that will provide essential information about snow stability. It will also include a danger rating. Local professionals will also be able to provide further insight into conditions so don’t be afraid to ask around.

Avoid: Skiing on slopes facing in the same direction as others that have had recent avalanche activity. Slopes facing in a particular direction often have more activity than others due to wind loading of snow that is often very unstable.

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