Caution Advised as Snow Hits the Alps

The current snow conditions present three main hazards:

  • A weak layer of depth hoar, which has grown over the last month, is buried at the bottom of everything and will no being going away any time soon.
  • Where the fresh snow has landed on the old snow, it will bond poorly to the smooth, icy surface. The westerly and south-westerly winds will have helped to pile the fresh snow onto the old, hard icy snow that was lying on north-easterly faces.
  • Where the fresh lands on slopes with no old snow it, the fresh snow will take time to bond onto the smooth grass and rocks.

At times like these, we can be our own worst enemies. Saisonaires have been waiting for weeks for the first big dump of powder. Holiday makers are visiting for just a few days and want to make the most of their time. Scarcity means that we all want to get out there and ski those lines. Equipment like transceivers and airbags don’t make you immortal and only help to balance up odds that are stacked heavily against you. The best thing is not to be in an avalanche in the first place. This video from Black Diamond & Powder magazine is well worth watching. Men are far more likely to be killed in avalanches than women and mixed sex groups are statistically safer than ones with just blokes in. Sorry boys but when the avalanche hazard is like this, it really is a time to listen to some good sensible advice from your wife or girlfriend.

Source: Caution advised as snow hits the Alps

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