Useful Tips

How to get out of an avalanche


The first thing that each of us must remember is that there are no avalanche equipment that is guaranteed to save you in the event of an avalanche. In most cases, extremes themselves are to blame for the gatherings. Riding along the avalanche-closed slopes, hoping that nothing will happen is tantamount to playing Russian roulette.

How is an avalanche

First you need to understand how an avalanche gather is formed. Snow falls on the slopes and lies in layers, like a layer cake. Temperature, sun, wind - everything affects its quality, so the snow in these layers is different. Due to the temperature difference, recrystallization occurs: in one of the layers, the snow turns into pellets, similar to groats, very slippery and mobile. The snowboard can cut through the snow to this layer, and then all the top snow comes off and slides down, accelerating. The worst “dry” avalanche: it is fresh, frosty snow, it moves at great speed, it is almost impossible to leave it.

Before the avalanche there is always a sound, similar to thunder, and a shock wave. Then, before the snow - snow dust. After swallowing it, you can suffocate before it hits the avalanche. After falling into an avalanche, the main danger lies in the fact that it drags inward the snow mass.

So, here are the rules that every fan of virgin land and freeride must learn:

  • In the mountains, you just need to talk with avalanche specialists, if you move away from the tracks, take a guide from the local people and listen to his advice.
  • You must be able to stop in time, say to yourself: "I’m scared. I don’t want to." And people “successfully” fight this, saying: “I’m scared, but I have to overcome myself and become cool!” This is the main reckless stupidity.
  • Most of the downhill events occur as a result of snowboarders "cutting" the avalanche.
  • There are rules: one went down, stood in a safe place, showed that everything is fine, then the next one goes. If someone falls into an avalanche, friends will quickly come to the rescue. Nobody but them will help - they just will not be in time. Here the score goes for minutes.
  • You can’t follow the same path, you must go down at a certain distance along the width of the slope. In case of a descent, it will not fall asleep all at once.
  • Avalanche equipment must be in order! Only it can increase the chances of salvation. Must have: avalanche sensor (beeper), snow shovel, avalanche probe (aka probe). Additionally, it is highly recommended to have an avalanche backpack, which greatly increases the chances of survival. There are many cases when such a backpack saved a life. There are 3 systems of such backpacks: ABS, Snowpulse, JetForce. They are expensive, but life is more expensive: I wanted extreme sports - I forked.
  • If an avalanche picks you up:

- cover your face and mouth with your hands so that snow dust does not enter the respiratory organs - otherwise you will suffocate,

- raise and hold the legs with the board as high as possible, do not allow them to dig in and drown, the avalanche sucks inward like a whirlpool,

- The face should always be pointing up into the sky.

  • If the avalanche has stopped, then it is necessary as soon as possible to rake up space for air around the face. You have 15 minutes, after which everything will stop in stone mass.
  • It’s almost impossible to find out yourself, it remains to rely only on friends who should be close. The score goes on minutes. Digging out a person after half an hour is unrealistic, as the snow crystallizes. The only option is to saw it with a saw.
  • If someone from the group is caught in an avalanche, everyone switches the beeper to search mode and starts searching. When the search area is limited, a probe is used - a folding stick, such as a fishing rod up to three meters long, with which snow is pierced. Having stumbled upon a person, they dig out him as soon as possible with an avalanche shovel.
  • Most often, people die in an avalanche, suffocating under the thickness of snow.
  • Here is a real video from a snowboarder’s helmet, to which an ABS backpack has slept this year’s life in Canada:

    There is an important recommendation that few follow due to lack of literacy. There are special plastic cards showing various forms of snowflakes and snow crystals, as well as their characteristics. Including how good or bad they are interlinked. Understanding the state of snow will allow you to assess in advance the potential for avalanches.

    How to get out of an avalanche and how dangerous is it?

    Few beginners are aware of the real danger of this phenomenon. To understand how to get out of an avalanche, it is worth knowing clearly about what its impact force is capable of.

    • Destroy strong concrete structures and metal structures,
    • Damage power lines and communications,
    • Drop cars and trains from roads (Figure 1),
    • Enter highways and communication lines,
    • Make inaccessible entire settlements
    • To cause serious injuries to a person, including those that are not compatible with life.
    Figure 1. The effects of an avalanche

    There is a separate system for warning people about the danger of natural disasters, which is based on the classification of risks of its occurrence.

    What to do if an avalanche overtakes you?

    If you follow this algorithm, you can avoid the fact that you will be swept by rushing snow:

    1. Move away from the snow mass path to a safe distance, moving horizontally (Figure 2),
    2. Hide behind a ledge or cliff in a cave
    3. Climb up a hill or a steady stone, a strong tree - young trees will easily break,
    4. Quickly discard things that fetter your movements and can draw in a stream - a backpack, skis, poles, ice ax, etc.

    Figure 2. If you are caught in an avalanche, follow certain rules.

    How can you get out of the snow yourself?

    Often, skiers themselves provoke an avalanche that slides a little below the place where the noise source is located, so every second is expensive.

    To escape from her captivity:

    1. Try to gain a foothold - grab onto a tree, stone or fence, in any case - stick a ski pole a few meters above your place of stay,
    2. Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf or hat so that pieces of ice and snow do not get in there,
    3. Group - take a horizontal position and turn towards the snow flow, pulling your knees to your stomach,
    4. Make a circular motion of the head so that as much free space as possible forms around it,
    5. As soon as the movement stops, try to save yourself, if you fail, try to push your hand up so that it is visible to the rescuers (Figure 3),
    6. Once in the power of the elements - do not scream, because the snow absorbs all sounds, and excess body movements will quickly deprive you of oxygen and strength,
    7. Stir so as not to freeze and do not despair, if possible, help those who are close to you - there are cases when people are saved on the 5th and even the 13th day.
    Figure 3. If you are covered with snow, do everything possible to get out on your own, or to facilitate your search by rescuers

    Let us examine step by step how experienced skiers are selected from similar situations (Figure 4).

    Their recommendations on how to get out of the avalanche:

    1. We need to take a position above the snow masses, just above the fault line,
    2. Then they’ll move to the edge of the moving snow, since in the middle its speed will be much higher than along the edges,
    3. Keep your upright position as long as possible and discard all unnecessary and heavy things,
    4. Grab something on your way, even if it tears you down and carries you on - so you gain time and pass the main part of the disaster down,
    5. Row your hands, moving with the flow, trying to keep your head above the surface,
    6. Make an air chamber around you - as soon as the avalanche flow has stopped, fold your hands in front of your face in the shape of a bowl, take a deep breath and hold your breath before stopping,
    7. Save air and energy - if you’re not deep, try to dig a tunnel, with the sound of voices - call for help.
    Figure 4. The basic rule to ensure your own safety!

    Method 1 act in the first few seconds

    Consider how to get out of an avalanche to a surface or to avoid getting into its stream altogether:

    1. Quickly jumping to the side - outside the vanishing line, it is important to react instantly, since the snow falls sharply and with great speed,
    2. Having gone sideways - the main thing is not to linger, but to move as soon as possible so that you are not pulled into the center of the snow mass,
    3. Having thrown off all the devices - lighten your weight, leaving heavy things, with the exception of emergency equipment - blades for raking drifts and a radio transmitter, it will be easier for rescuers to determine where you are from the ski equipment left on the surface
    4. Grasping at something - a large stone or a strong tree will do, even a small stick on the edge of the descent will help to stay on until the bulk passes, in any case, this trick will delay your fall down (Figure 5),
    5. Starting to swim, try to stay upstairs and make repulsive movements with your arms and legs, as when swimming, swim on your back so that your face has access to oxygen towards the top.
    Figure 5. When starting an avalanche, follow some simple rules.

    Method 2 how to survive if an avalanche covers you

    One of the most unpleasant situations when you could not avoid the danger has its own method of action (Figure 6).

    How to escape from a snow blockage:

    1. To determine the way out, hold your hands upward,
    2. Immediately make a small groove around your face to avoid suffocation and take a deep breath before the snow settles, so that when you exhale, there is free space around the chest,
    3. Save your strength and air - move, how to stop the avalanche, but not to the detriment of the oxygen supply,
    4. Call people for help if they are nearby and you hear them, stop trying if they don’t answer you,
    5. Expect the arrival of rescuers - if there is a beacon or a sensor, the wait will not take much time, the main thing is to remain calm and confident in the success of the rescue event.
    Figure 6. If you couldn’t get out of the avalanche path, follow the recommendations to survive under the snow.

    Method 3 Boost Your Chances of Survival

    It is impossible to foresee everything, but before going to the mountains, you should undergo special training and take care of the availability of the necessary equipment.

    How to increase your chances of survival:

    • Emergency and rescue equipment reduces the likelihood of death under the thickness of the snow, it includes sensors and an avalanche receiver (Figure 7), a helmet with a shovel and airbags for the tracks,
    • Survival courses in avalanche situations will teach you how to quickly navigate in the event of a threat that is not so rare in the mountains.
    Figure 7. In the age of technology, be sure to use possible sensors to ensure the safety of your own life.

    It is worth listening to the recommendations of experienced skiers and lifeguards who can save your life.

    They know exactly how to get out of the avalanche safe and sound:

    1. Watch the weather forecast, ask the locals about the presence of dangerous places, explore the area in advance, not relying on assumptions about its relative safety,
    2. Be sure to take survival training and don’t go out into the mountains without the necessary equipment, especially at the height of the ski season,
    3. Stuck under an avalanche in a deserted place, do not panic, but dig out on your own, determining the direction to the light or in the area where the steam escaping from the mouth rises,
    4. Not everyone succeeds in removing skis or a snowboard before they are covered with an avalanche - there are cases when stuck people were found on sticking tracks or sticks, so this could be for the better,

    The article is waiting for your participation.

    These icons indicate directions in which anyone can participate. Portal GeoCenter.INFO created and exists thanks to the joint efforts of an international team of volunteers, simply by people who are interested in this topic and are not indifferent to the future of mankind.

    We invite everyone to take part in the preparation of quality articles and additional creative projects. To participate, please write to the mail email protected

    - This article is awaiting translation into English. A colored icon means that the translation is already there, but you can subtract it and offer improvements.

    - This article is awaiting image. A colored icon means that the title picture is already there, but if you wish, you can offer an image for any paragraph to add to the article.

    - This article is awaiting proofreading. A colored icon means that the article has already been read, but if you notice inaccuracies, errors or typos, please let us know.

    - This article expects audio stuffing. A colored icon means that the audio content is ready, but you can offer your own option if you wish.

    - This article is awaiting a video version. A colored icon means that the video version is ready, but you can offer your own option if you wish.

    The trouble, as a rule, appears suddenly, causing chaos and panic. Only the advance preparation and unity of the peoples of the world in the face of an imminent natural danger gives mankind a great chance of survival and joint overcoming difficulties in an era associated with global climate change. from the Report «On the problems and consequences of global climate change on Earth. Effective solutions to these problems»

    In this memo, we will talk about what to do if you find yourself in an area with the likelihood of an avalanche and the associated consequences.

    An avalanche is the mass of snow falling at an increasing speed (from 20 to 1000 m / s). In its glide along the steep mountain slopes, an avalanche sweeps everything in its path, overcoming considerable distances, capturing new portions of snow, ice, small rocks, increasing its volume. The impact force of the elements is often calculated in tens of tons per square meter. When the avalanche begins to move downward, an air wave forms, which clears the path of the avalanche. Its destructive power is able to demolish buildings, fill roads. Before the collapse of the snow mass, a dull sound is heard high in the mountains, after which the snow cloud travels at great speed to the valley where it stops. Most often, avalanches form in open areas of the mountain where there are no trees that could inhibit the movement of snow mass.

    Why are avalanches dangerous?

    The shock force of an avalanche can destroy even strong concrete buildings, twists metal masts of power transmission, and dumps not only cars from the road. but also trains, turning machinery into piles of scrap metal. On the roads, a layer of thick snow is formed.

    Currently, a system has been developed to warn people about the danger of avalanches. It includes an avalanche risk classification system, the levels of which are indicated by flags and posted at ski resorts and resorts.

    Recommendations for the threat of avalanche

    1. Refrain from hiking
    2. Avoid dangerous slopes. You can’t cross them across or move in a zigzag, as this can “cut” the snow cover, disrupt the adhesion of snow to the underlying surface and cause an avalanche. Moving along the slope is best straight up, in extreme cases - obliquely.
    3. Do not go out into the mountains after heavy snowfalls for 2-3 days,
    4. It is recommended to stick with a group of more than 3 people
    5. When going out into the mountains, it is advisable to take an avalanche transceiver, a mobile phone with you, so that rescuers have the opportunity to find a person covered with snow, as well as special avalanche backpacks,
    6. It is not recommended to step on snow cornices.

    What to do if you are near an avalanche?

    1. Get out of the avalanche path to a safe place, moving horizontally.
    2. Hide behind a ledge or in a cave.
    3. Climb a hill, a stable stone or a strong tree (you can’t hide behind young trees, as snow can break them)
    4. Quickly get rid of all things that can be pulled into a rushing stream and hamper movements: from a backpack, skis, poles, ice ax.

    How to act if you are under the thickness of snow

    1. Cover the nose and mouth with a scarf or hat to prevent snow from getting there,
    2. Group: take a horizontal position, turning in the direction of movement of the snow stream, pull your knees to your stomach,
    3. In a circular rotation of the head, form as much free space in the face as possible
    4. When the avalanche stops, try to get out on your own or try to push your hand upstairs so that the rescuers notice it,
    5. Once in an avalanche, do not scream - the snow completely absorbs sounds, and screams and senseless movements only deprive you of energy, oxygen and heat,
    6. In order not to freeze, do not forget to move.
    7. Do not lose your temper, help those who are close to you whenever possible, do not let yourself and people who are near you fall asleep, remember that you are being searched. There are cases when people were rescued from under an avalanche on the fifth and even thirteenth days.

    It is important in any emergency situation to remember one indisputable truth: whatever happens while maintaining self-control, by joint, consolidated and friendly actions, it is possible to overcome any difficulty and greatly increase the chances of survival. Helping other people, we thereby help ourselves. After all, as stated in the Report “On the problems and consequences of global climate change on Earth. Effective solutions to these problems ":

    We are all human beings and we all have one place of residence - Earth, one nationality - humanity, one value - life, thanks to which we can adequately realize ourselves and the meaning of our existence in the highest spiritual and moral aspect.