Avalanche Safety: The Basics

There are a few essential items of kit that you will need to either invest in or rent before heading off-piste. It is not only important that you have this equipment but also that every member of your group has it too. After all it is their equipment that will save your life when it comes down to it.

1. Transceiver

A transceiver can make the difference between life and death gives the best chance of locating skiers that have been buried in an avalanche. Before heading out on the mountain ensure that all of your party’s transceiver batteries are full of juice. All members of the party should have their devices switched to transmit. In the event of an avalanche, you will then switch it to receive.

MPORA recommends a transceiver such as the Ortovox 3 as this will provide you with information such as distance from the buried person and the direction in which they are located which will help you to find them significantly quicker. It is thought that you have about 18 minutes to recover a person, after which time their chances of survival diminish rapidly.

2. Probe

When you get to the spot where the person is buried a probe will help you to locate their exact whereabouts. As the name suggests, this long collapsible pole can be prodded into the snow so you can identify exactly where to start digging.

3. Shovel

And for that dig you are going to need a shovel. Pack friendly shovels that are light and compact are available and do not cost an arm and a leg. Just make sure you get a good one as you will appreciate it if you are caught an unfortunate situation.


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