Avalanches: 5 Survival Tips You Should Know About

A few seasons back Xavier de le Rue got caught up in this mother of all avalanches. Read how he survived it here. Photo: Christopher Sjostrom

Powder: who doesn’t love it? Epic snowfalls give us rooster tails, face shots and ear to ear grins, but it’s rare to experience ultra fresh conditions straight after a fresh dump, especially as poor early snowfall and warm temperatures over the last few years has left most of the European Alps with poor bases and varied snowpacks.

But that’s not stopped many people getting out into the backcountry and getting their fill of fresh lines – in fact year after year more people are reportedly enjoying what the mountain has to offer away from the piste. Sadly, every year there are what seems like more and more avalanche-related deaths, and the toll is only going to grow higher.

So to help you this winter, and in future winters, here are some backcountry and avalanche safety tips for you to take in before your season or holiday this year. It’s scary stuff but well worth taking in – it could just save your life.

As a disclaimer, I would in no way call myself an off-piste or avalanche expert. This is a collection of essential information I have collected over my years in the snow, but it is in no way complete or a substitute for proper avalanche training. If you’re really serious about going off-piste this year you should invest in a professional course, alongside some reading material (I’d recommend ‘Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain’ by Bruce Tremper) and regular practice with your gear.


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