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Tips for Surviving an Avalanche Part 1

As you may already know, Zermatt is one of the most popular and famous areas for skiing and mountaineering. But with so much snow, sometimes accidents happen. And one of the dangerous ones, other than falling into crevasse, is avalanche. There are many ways you can avoid an avalanche, such as checking the weather report, having a professional guide, avoiding falling rocks, avoiding loose snows and many more. But nature can be cruel and sometimes, especially in warm weathers or when there are many snows, avalanche do happen. Here are some tips for surviving the avalanche.

Shout out and alert the others in your group if you are mountaineering or hiking up in the snowy mountain with a group. Raise your arms and signal while yelling so that they can spot you and mark your location before the avalanche sweeps you away. This is very important since once the avalanche comes, victims of avalanche can easily be lost in the piles of snow.

Gear up or prepare for an avalanche if you have the avalanche survival gear such as air bag and/or beacon. If you see an avalanche, place the mouthpiece in your mouth and activate the avalanche airbag. For beacon, or avalanche transceiver, just have it on. This increases the chance of survival once buried. Most beacons transmit a radio frequency to a receiver or another beacon allowing rescuers to pinpoint exactly where the victim is buried underneath the snow before they start digging randomly. This is really helpful for both mountaineers and skiers who are planning to ski off-piste.


Jump up slope. Most avalanche victims trigger the avalanche themselves, and sometimes the avalanche will start right beneath their feet. If this happens, try to jump up the slope, beyond the fracture line. Avalanche is really fast so this can be really challenging and most of the time people cannot move that quickly but it has been done before.

Move sideways. The center of an avalanche is where the snow moves the fastest, making it the most dangerous place. Whether the avalanche begins directly beneath your feet or above you, the best strategy to avoid getting caught is to move sideways. It is important to begin moving immediately after you notice the signs of an avalanche, because the quicker you get out of the way, the higher your chance of survival.

Let go of your equipment. You need your body to be as lightweight as possible, so let go of your backpack and other heavy equipment when you run. This will raise the chance for you to run quicker and will be able to stay toward the surface of the snow. But do not let every single equipment. You will need survival equipment such as transceiver, probe, snow shovel or anything that will get you out once buried. People searching you later may be able to find you if they see some pieces of equipment on the surface of the snow, so you can let go a glove or something that is light to increase the chances of finding you.