The best way to avoid an avalanche is to be aware of current avalanche conditions and take precautions to avoid them. Avalanches occur when loose snow or a slab of snow starts moving down a slope. Avalanches are triggered by a variety of slope, snow and weather conditions but can also be triggered by human impact. Avoid steep slopes or smooth, open slopes.
Avoid mountainous terrain after heavy snowfall or prolonged periods of high wind. Do not cross steep side hills or narrow canyons. The safest routes are on ridge tops and on the windward side. Stay away from cornices. The next safest route is out in the valley, far from the bottom of a slope. Slopes at angles of 28 degrees or greater are in great danger of sliding.
Cross one person at a time. Never stop in the middle or the bottom of a slope. Never travel above your partners!
Prepare for the worst. Have a rescue plan. Have each member of the group carry avalanche gear. An avalanche beacon for each member of your party can save lives. Carry a shovel and probe and know how to use them! A cell phone is important to have, though it would take too long for rescue members to arrive to rescue an avalanche victim. Your party is the best source of saving a life.
Did You Know?
Avalanches travel at speeds up to 100 MPH
Most avalanches occur during or just after big storms when the snow is too heavy to stick.
The deadliest "Slab Avalanches", are mostly caused by snowmobilers or skiers being outside marked trails.
Ski Patrols use explosives to cause snowslides, reducing risk of major avalanches.
Most avalanche victims die in half an hour, many within five minutes.
In the US, there are about 20 deaths per year due to avalanches.