Avalanche Awareness

Avalanche Information

the beauty and fascination of the alpine winter wonderland has many attractions. An increasing number of snowboarders and mountaineers are seeking the peace and quiet in deep snow on steep virgin slopes far off the maintained runs.

As beautiful as that may be for the winter sport enthusiast, it is important to be aware of the dangers in this environment.

In order to prepare for such a winter adventure it is essential to secure a report of the current avalanche situation. For years now science and technology have attempted to understand the phenomenon of avalanches and to make prediction about the danger of avalanches.

With new technologies like internet and WAP it has become convenient to receive information of acute and potential hazards.

Avalanche warnings and european danger scale

The standardized European danger scale for avalanches has been introduced in 1993 and has a range of 5 steps.

The avalanche report provides beside the hazard range also information on new snow accumulation, wind speed, and temperature changes. For preparation of a tour we recommend to obtain the current avalanche report.

Basic recommendations in case of an emergency

Self-help even if it is already too late:

  1. Perform swimming strokes during an avalanche so you can remain as close to the surface as possible.
  2. Once the avalanche slows down maintain a squatting position with arms in front face. This way you create some breathing space in case you get buried.
  3. After the stop of movement: stay calm and assess situation. If possible dig out by yourself. Safe air and energy!
  4. Don’t scream - it uses up precious air- unless you hear other sounds.

Your own group members are able to help faster than rescue teams, which makes it important to start the search immediately (be aware of subsequent avalanches). Time will save lives:

  • Try to find out where the buried have been seen last
  • In case of avalanche transceiver turn them into search mode and search systematically downhill from side to side.

Time saves lives in an avalanche accident:

  • in the first 15 minutes the chance of survival is about 90%
  • after 35 minutes it diminishes to 25%

Equipment for activities away from groomed runs

  • Avalanche transceiver: Absolutely necessary to locate avalanche victims. The personal locating device must be carried directly on the body (not in the backpack). Definitely test your equipment before use to identify potential problems such as low batteries, malfunction during sending or receiving to be able to take corrective action.
  • Avalanche-shovel: Compressed snow can be as hard as concrete. Without shovel you will not succeed!
  • Avalanche probe: It is a mechanical device supplementing the electronic one and allows you to gain information about the depth of the snow cover.
  • First Aid Kit: It is important to have rescue blanket to protect an avalanche victim from frostbites and hypothermia.

Equipment for activities away from groomed runs

Emergency Calls 118

Alpine Warning Signs

Warning sign for closed ski slopesWarning sign for danger of avalanches

Warning signs for closed ski slopes and danger of avalanches.

Those signs are there for a reason, so please do not ignore them.

Emergency Report

  • Where? place of accident
  • What happened when
  • How many are insured
  • What kind of injury
  • Who reports (name), location, availability (phone)

Emergency calls with cell phones

Note: There is NO areawide supply with mobile radio within the alpine area!

That way your cell phone will search for the strongest network for an emergency call: Switch your cell phone off and on again. Enter the european emergency call number 112 instead of the pin code.

Alpine Distress Signal

Distress Signal: 6 acoustical oder optical signals per minute in regular intervals, then 1 minute break.

Answer: 3 signals per minute in regular intervals, then 1 minute break.