We would like to provide you with some basics on this complex topic and recommend thorough initial and ongoing advanced avalanche training.
Most winter outdoor travelers trigger their own avalanches. The snowpack is fragile. Slab avalanches resemble set traps: If we trigger it, the trap snaps. Remember that a small slab of 100m3 weighs about 25 tons!
The planning of the next tour should start days before the actual start, following question must be asked:
- What is the current danger level?
- What is the steepest slope angle?
- What is the slope exposition?
- Is all the emergency equipment available and ready?
- What is the weather forecast?
- How large is the group and what are the individual skill levels?
Slope exposition and slope angle
The following areas must be taken into consideration:
- Low danger: the immediate vicinity of the track
- Moderate danger: 20m to the left and right of the track
- Considerable danger: the entire slope
Adequate spacing is an effective method to minimize stress on the snowpack. Ascending, the spacing should be approximately 10 meters; descending approximately 30 – 50 meters, due to the additional stress. Danger zones should be traveled one person at a time. Minimize the stress on the snowpack by making long turns.
Before a party takes off, the transceivers of all the party members must be checked. To conduct this test, the function group check or Search mode is activated on a single transceiver within the party. Make sure all the other transceivers of the party are in SEND mode. The test is successful if all the members of the party can clearly hear beeps within the range indicated on the display. The members of the party must be spread out appropriately to avoid mutual interference. If the individuals are too close to each other, the group check’s results become increasingly unreliable. If no tone is heard within the indicated range, the device may not be used, and the device or its batteries must be inspected further, as needed.
The following standard safety precautions should always be taken regardless of the danger level:
- Avalanche transceiver on SEND, along with a probe pole and shovel
- Avoid fresh wind-deposited snow
- Consider daily fluctuations in temperature, especially in the spring
- Constantly assess the conditions throughout the trip
With the following amounts of new snowfall within 1–3 days, the danger level is at least considerable
- 10–20 cm with adverse conditions
- 20–30 cm with average conditions
- 30–50 cm with favorable conditions
- Strong wind (> 50 km/h)
- Low temperatures (< -8° C)
- Slope seldom traveled
- Light wind
- Temperatures little below 0° C
- Slope traveled frequently
Basic Reduction Method
Black = Considerable
White ≈ Moderate
|Danger level||Skiable/ridable slope angle|
|less than 40 degree|
|3-Considerable||less than 35 degree|
|4-High||less than 30 degree|
Untracked steep slopes (> 30 degrees)?
Spacing of at least 10 m.
Outside of the forecasted aspect or altitude ranges?
The danger level is generally one level lower.
At the edge of the forecasted aspect or altitude ranges?
Do not approach the limits
Avalanche Forecast Centers
It is impossible to publish a list of all the avalanche forecast centers in this user manual. Current information about all the avalanche forecast centers worldwide can be found at the CyberSpace Avalanche Center website at http://www.csac.org