The Truth About Skiing

Avalanche and everything you should know about them

Snow avalanche is a moving mass of snow, or of both snow and ice. It may contain thousands of tones of snow, forming a destructive force capable of destroying trees, forests, ski facilities and entire buildings in a blink of an eye. Smaller avalanches are the greatest danger for skiers, which they can trigger themselves on steeper terrains with deadly results.

Avalanche

More than 35 people are killed every year in France alone (as many as 57 were killed in the 2005/06 season), with 25 fatalities in the U.S.A., Austria and Switzerland respectively, and around 22 in both Canada and Italy, etc. In New Zealand, at least two people are killed each year.

Freeriders as a whole make up about 70% of all fatalities in avalanches (i.e. 40% of avalanche fatalities are backcountry alpine skiers, and 30% are off-piste skiers, or those in the vicinity of pre-arranged ski slopes). The remainder are mostly mountaineers and trekkers, as well as drivers of motor-sleds most of whom are killed in Canada and the U.S.A.

Small avalanches are also life-threatening, even for trained and well-equipped freeriders. Chances of surviving an avalanche depending on a variety of factors. These include the size of the avalanche, the terrain, the time required to rescue you, how lucky you are, and the possibility of coming to settle near the surface of the snow. Approximately one quarter of avalanche victims die from sliding, whereas others can stay alive for some time beneath the snow.

How to avoid an avalanche

Firstly, you have to learn how to recognize the warning signs. In order to either predict or avoid an avalanche, you’ll need to know how to choose your route; to examine the stability of snow cover, and take into consideration the weather conditions and human factors.

Next, we are going to inform you about some parameters that you have to examine first, and then go to ski.

Analysis of snow layers

Analysis of snow layersFor a slab avalanche to form, the snow surface needs to have a weak (or unstable) layer beneath the stable layer of snow, so that an avalanche can be triggered when the skier damages this weak layer through his movement. Our skiing system describes how to perform numerous tests that assure you of an avalanche that can come.

Recognizing dangerous terrains   

With good knowledge, you may also recognize dangerous terrains. For example, there’s a greater chance of an avalanche starting on a protruding (convex) part of the slope than on its recessed (concave) part.

What to do if you’re caught by an avalanche

In freeride there’s a saying that “speed is your friend”. If you ski or snowboard fast enough (in areas that allow it) there is a greater chance that you’ll be able to turn left or right to a safe point in the event of an avalanche. Don’t ever make short turns over a potentially dangerous terrain.

Avalanches can occur in a variety of aspects, and your primary task is to try to escape them either to the left or right once you’ve noticed an avalanche in front of (or around) you.

If it catches you, you first need to shout loudly so as to get your friends’ attention. Then, you can only release your poles, so I would suggest that you don’t put your hands through the straps on your poles whilst riding over freeride terrain. When it pulls you, you feel like you’re caught in a wild and fast river with weights on your feet and hands because the density of the human body is about three times that of an avalanche. As it carries you along further, you sink deeper into the snow. To prevent yourself from sinking, you must try to swim breaststroke rigorously.

These are some basic information, but you’ll have to know how much time do you have, what equipment you must have if you are passionate freerider, or how the rescue team functions and how to search for people buried in an avalanche…

Our skiing system can very well inform you on how to avoid, escape and survive an avalanche.

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