Avalanche – It’s About Life And Death

Avalanche means danger to skiers life – the right reaction determines life and death. Data says that more than 100 people die each year from it. So, if you yourself are in an emergency situation with an avalanche, what to do?

Avalanches are not the exception, they are normality. Worldwide estimation of their presence reaches one million times per year. Outgoing snowboards reach the speeds of over 300 km/h and unleash enormous forces.

Know danger levels, avoid the risks. Anyone who gets into an avalanche as a skier or snowboarder needs good equipment and expert knowledge. Most of all, quick help and luck because two out of three victims do not survive. Despite all the technical improvements in avalanche protection and equipment, the best protection is to avoid risk areas.

Specifically, there are five different levels of danger in the European Lawenin Hazard Scale. Each comes with the following recommendations outside the secure zones:

1LowGenerally safe conditions
2ModerateMost favorable conditions. Careful route choice, especially on steep slopes of the specified exposure and altitude
3SignificantPartly unfavorable conditions. Experience in avalanche assessment required. Avoid as far as possible the steep slopes of the given exposure and altitude
4BigUnfavorable conditions. Much experience in avalanche assessment required. Observe limitation to moderately steep terrain/avalanche outlet areas
5Very LargeVery unfavorable conditions. Disclaimer recommended


Learn to assess the danger yourself. Those who skiing outside the common path must be aware of the danger. Experienced skiers or tourists have often become victims. The high frequency of skis accumulatively increases the risk of avalanche. Read the warning issued by the area manager and authorized personnel. Always update information regarding weather condition and security level. Make your own risk assessment based on available information.

For the search and rescue team, there are few things to keep in mind. Rapid reaction is necessary, but reacting alone can increase the risk of death. for the rescuer’s team, avalanche protection measures are:

  1. Never go alone. Avalanches victims depend a lot on help. The human ability to survive under the ice surface is no more than 15 minutes. Therefore, more squad is the better in order to assure a quicker action.
  2. Always improve your capability by attending courses and training by ski schools and the authorities regularly.
  3. Keep your distance to other snowboarders and skiers on dangerous slopes.
  4. Be aware to detect dangers early on, for example, by sounds under the snow cover.


#Photo by Aleks Dahlberg on Unsplash

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