Avoiding Avalanches

Mar 1, 2017

 Avoiding Avalanches: What To Do?

First things first, this article is not intended as a substitute for a certified avalanche course. If you intend to spend time in the back country during the winter months I suggest checking out our training partner, OVERhang, as they offer Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 and Level 2, as well as Companion Rescue Skills. Reclaim Corporate Training offers a wide variety of Disaster Response related courses for you to participate in and build your skillset further.

You can also send an email to sheila@rctraining.ca Just explain your need for training and she can set you up with an appropriate training partner that will able to accommodate you and provide the education you require.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get onto the actual article and learn some of the basic ways to avoid and prevent avalanches!


Most of us hope to never see one. However, avalanches are actually very common in the back country areas of our wilderness (and often Mother Nature has plans of her own). When those white slopes are covered in winter powder it is a beautiful time. It is also important that we understand not only the very real danger of winter, but the right things to do so that we don’t find ourselves in trouble as a result of that danger.

For starters, don't set out following a storm. Most avalanches occur during or just after a heavy snowfall, when the added weight between the fresh and existing snow make slides more likely. Most experts recommend waiting at least 48 hours after a storm–but this can vary depending on your specific location. Always check the avalanche forecast first.

Pay attention to the terrain and your surroundings! Evaluate the angle of a slope before traveling over or beneath it. Slopes that are less than 25 degrees are safest, while 30 to 45 degree slopes are the most prone to avalanches due to the increased angle. You also need to consider the slope's curve; concave curves tend to be more stable than convex ones because the snow that is lower on the hill will provide stability and added support for the snow above.

Avoid any barren ravines and slopes with sparse patches of young trees. Trees with broken branches on their uphill sides are also signs that avalanches routinely occur in that particular area. Your best bet is to travel below or on heavily forested slopes, where the stronger, more mature trees can help anchor the snow.

If you absolutely must cross a steep slope, then you need to choose the highest route you can access. People who are caught near the peak of an avalanche are more likely to survive, since they tend to stay near the surface. Travel one by one so that if an avalanche does occur the slide doesn't accidentally wipe out your entire group and move cautiously (but rapidly) in order to minimize the risk of exposure.

Having the knowledge about how to avoid being caught in a sticky (slippery?) situation is invaluable. Remember everything that you learned here and use that knowledge to help you prevent danger from ever occurring.

Check out our blog again next week for more of the most up to date content and helpful freebies on wilderness survival. As always, if you are interested in learning more and becoming an advanced survivalist, then please check out the programs and courses offered by Reclaim Corporate Training (http://www.rctraining.ca/) and register for any that you think you might enjoy!


Stay Safe, Play Hard!




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