Here’s a really useful guide we here at SkiAndBoarding found that we just had to share with you guys…
Before you head off piste, as well as getting kitted out, you need to consider some other factors:
- Group size
- Speaking to others/ experts
- Don’t go if you are tired
- Don’t be overconfident
If you are in a group you feel happy with and feel prepared this is a good starting point.
You will also need to assess the avalanche risk for the day. Every day before you go off piste you should check the local International Scale of Avalanche Hazard Rating. This 1-5 scale (5 being the greatest risk) will help you assess the potential dangers of riding off piste from one day to the next. Just because it was safe yesterday does not mean it will be today! Even on a lower hazard rating, risk of avalanche can exist.
European Scale of Avalanche Risk
|Grade of risk:||1. Low|
|Stability of snow pack:||The Snowpack is generally well stabilised.|
|Probability of release:||Release of avalanches is only possible on very few and very steep slopes. Only small spontaneous avalanches are to be expected.|
|Grade of risk:||2. Moderate|
|Stability of snow pack:||The snowpack is only moderately stabilised on some steep slopes* but otherwise generally well stabilised.|
|Probability of release:||Large additional loads** may release avalanches, especially on steep slopes of the stated altitude and orientation. Larger spontaneous avalanches are not to be expected.|
|Grade of risk:||3. Considerable|
|Stability of snow pack:||The snowpack is only weakly to moderately stabilised on many steep slopes*.|
|Probability of release:||Release of avalanches are likely by moderate additional load** on the most steep slopes. Occasional spontaneous avalanches are possible.|
|Sign:||Checked Black and Yellow|
|Grade of risk:||4. High|
|Stability of snow pack:||The snowpack is weakly stabilised on the most steep slopes*.|
|Probability of release:||Release of avalanches are likely from low additional load** on steep slopes. Occasional medium sized, sometimes also large spontaneous avalanches have to be expected.|
|Sign:||Checked Black and Yellow|
|Grade of risk:||5. Very High|
|Stability of snow pack:||The Snowpack is generally weakly stabilised and mostly unstable.|
|Probability of release:||Numerous large spontaneous avalanches have to be expected.|
* The terrain with avalanche risk is generally more described in more detail in the avalanche forecast (ie. altitude, orientation, terrain forms etc).
** Additional load – large: e.g. group of skiers, track mobile, avalanche blasting.
- moderate: e.g. jumping skiers, pedestrian.
- low: e.g. single skier.
There are national organisations in most countries who supply a daily avalanche forecast. These are a great resource both for checking current conditions and avalanche warning levels, but also a good place to gather historical information.
Scotland – Sport Scotland Avalanche Information Service - http://www.sais.gov.uk/
Switzerland – Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF http://www.slf.ch/
Austria - http://www.lawine.at/
France - http://france.meteofrance.com
Norway - http://www.ngi.no/snoskred/
The SLF (Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research) website, www.avalanche.org, is one of the best resources for finding out more about avalanche awareness as well as avalanche bulletins (current and historical) and avalanche statistics. They have a lot of their information in English.
Thanks to the Ski Club of Great Britain for providing the above content