Skier Escaping an Avalanche

The snow storms this winter have been notably ferocious. Experts have warned skiers again Sunday of possibly dangerous backcountry conditions, saying the fresh snow has pushed the aged snowpack to the right amount for many avalanches to occur.

Jump to 1:30 to see the avalanche!

It’s easy to underestimate the consequences of having been caught in a deep-consistent slab avalanche, since these slides are normally bigger than most of the avalanches seen by back-country recreationalists. Deep-persistent slabs do not form each year, like thunderstorm and ‘windslab’ avalanches. The only real effective travel technique for this avalanche difficulty will be to avoid places where full slabs may release, or when the hazard is deemed sufficient.

You really don’t want to expose a single group member to the risk! The fact that these detrimental avalanches are spread out regularly doesn’t mitigate the hazard to the group.

In comparison, as you cross a valley bottom you may also be caught in a avalanche activated naturally to the steep incline above you. Even a modest avalanche starting high in the incline can carry down big degrees of snow onto and throughout the valley floor. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for obvious avalanche chutes, where avalanches occur more regularly (i.e. see the video above for an excellent example of this!)

On Thursday, a 38-year-old snowboarder perished within an avalanche south of Colorado’s Vail Ski Pass. The line originated in Denver and terminated near Crested Butte in a little coal-mining camp called Baldwin. The historic John Evans, railway was among the most celebrated narrow gauge lines on earth, partially due to its history of frequent avalanches and because of the distinguished Alpine Tunnel crossing beneath the Continental Divide. The high costs of operating in wintertime and of extended closures after avalanches eventually bankrupt the railway line.

In certain nations they have avalanche prevention procedures. These strategies decrease the danger of avalanches. For example, they put up fences to help prevent the avalanches. In a few places where there might be free snow, they can also clear the area by using bomb or some other explosive system. A small avalanche will likely be triggered by the bomb. This way when people are hiking or skiing they will not get hurt or killed.

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