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On the 12th of December 2020, 40cm of fresh snow fell over two days in the northern French Alps in the Tarentaise Valley. The snowfall fell on top of a weak fragile layer and nine avalanches were reported the next day. These avalanches caused many injuries and luckily no casualties.

In this blog I am going to share with you three terrain selection mistakes that riders made after a 40cm snowfall and how to avoid them. 

MISTAKE 1: SLOPE ANGLE 

The riders choose a slope after a heavy snowfall above 30 degrees. Avalanche danger significantly increases with slope angle as you rise above 30-degrees, but beyond 50-degrees (Tremper) or 60-degrees, (Fredston and Fesler) the likelihood of dangerous slab avalanches decreases.  

HOW TO AVOID: After a heavy snowfall consider a slope less than degrees angle.

MISTAKE 2: ASPECT OF SLOPE 

The majority avalanches on that day happened on northerly aspects. Depending on what direction the slope faces at what time of the year is vital information to how the snowpack bonds. It’s so important to check the forecast, the avalanche bulletin and get local information before making your route decisions. To understand which aspects are more dangerous than others. 

HOW TO AVOID: Find out which aspects of the slope in the area that you would like to ride in are more dangerous and avoid them.

MISTAKE 3: SHAPE OF THE SLOPE

The riders choose a slope with a convexity. Convex slopes statistically produce more avalanches and more avalanche accidents than other kinds of slopes, because they are inherently less stable.

HOW TO AVOID: Avoid slopes with a convexity all together. 

It’s so important to get the right training and education so you can make better and safer decisions when riding off-piste. If you hire an experienced guide and instructor its such an investment as they can teach you to make the right decisions in avalanche terrain and pass their experience. For more details or if you have any questions please drop me an email to: [email protected] or visit my website www.freefloski.com

TOP TIP: LET IT SETTLE

Don’t hike right after a heavy snowfall storm. Most avalanches occur during or just after a heavy snowfall when added weight and weak bonds between fresh and existing snow make slides more likely. Experts recommend waiting at least 48 hours but local variables can extend that time. Always check the avalanche forecast (go to avalanche.org to find a report for your area).

Check out the video on the Freefloski You Tube channel.

On this tutorial channel I share my passion for skiing and the love for the mountains. With 24years of teaching and leading experience I will share with you my secrets, tips and advice to make skiing easier and the mountains safer. Follow and subscribe 👍 .

Stay safe and enjoy the mountains.

Floss 

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