How to act in a snow avalanche?

How to act in a snow avalanche

How to act in a snow avalanche

How to act in a snow avalanche, a few tips to make your winter sports practice safer.

Every winter we hear many cases of people who are trapped in a snow avalanche and on many occasions, the number of victims could have been reduced by prior training.

Training in mountain safety (avalanches) and knowing how to act in a snow avalanche is essential to prevent accidents and survive this type of hazard. In Mountain lines, we carry out avalanches safety courses  and today we want to share with you some recommendations on how to act.

Recommendations if avalanches and snowstorms occur

Avalanche prevention

Faced with the danger of avalanches, we must evaluate several factors: Meteo-nivology, the terrain and the group. Both in the planning of the activity and during it.  What should be taken into account to avoid being a victim of a mountain avalanche?

  • Avalanche hazard bulletin.  Although it may seem obvious, you should always consult the gap and know that avalanche danger is on the mountain. This graduation is done from Grade 1 (weak) to Grade 5(very strong) being unadvisable to do an activity. Avalanches not only occur in days of Tempest or strong wind, but they happen for very different reasons.


  • Choose the best route. Planning and understanding the distribution of hazards is critical to choosing your route well. Being aware of the dangers can lead you to take a path or another, is the best way not to put yourself at risk, for this we will use area maps of winter activity guides and other planning tools.


  • The group. Knowing who we are going to the mountain will also help us know what activity to choose and the equipment we will need, besides carrying the essential material such as the Avalanche Victim Detector (DVA), shovel and probe, as we will move skis, split board… The physical condition of the equipment, the knowledge, its technical level are all parameters that will lead us to make better decisions.


How to act in a snow avalanche

It is not the same to go with your two expert friends that for example with the club. In a large group, it is more difficult to move and there are more factors that affect decision making.

How to escape from an avalanche

Once the snow plate is in motion you have to evaluate at what point we are to act correctly. If we are in the upper zone, we must escape the avalanche making a diagonal to the outside of the avalanche. If the avalanche drags us, we will try to keep our feet ahead as it can be impacted by rocks or vegetation. Try to roll to the outside of the avalanche. Once the avalanche is stopping, make an air chamber in front of the face.

Rescuing an avalanche victim

Most avalanches are caused by the victim or someone in your group. At this point, time is gold and it is very important to act quickly. If a victim is rescued within 15 minutes, there is a good chance he will survive, after that time the odds plummet.

Nivology and Avalanches Course

How to act in a snow avalancheAvalanche Safety for Beginners

In Mountain lines, you can form a safety course in avalanche terrain. We teach rescue techniques and procedures as well as decision making during winter mountain activities. We offer you a course of a total of 21 hours in which we will apply theory and practice in the Aran Valley. The groups are made up of a minimum of 4 people and is done on weekends normally, although it can also be during the week with closed groups; The courses are held between January and March. To sleep there are two options: make outings in the day and sleep in the village or spend the night in a mountain retreat.

Perfecting rescue techniques and avalanche forecasting

For people with minimal training in the risk of avalanches, in MTN lines we have prepared the course to improve and perfect the techniques of avalanche rescue. The objectives of the course have a more professional profile and, therefore, it is carried out in a refuge of high mountain for 5 days. The groups are formed by about 18 people and a total of 3 professors, the mode is half-board. To access the course of avalanches STA2 has to pass a minimum knowledge exam and have studied an STA1. (or the equivalent).

Courses MTN lines recognized by ACNA

Of course, the two avalanche safety courses offered by MTN lines (STA1 and STA2) are endorsed by the Association of knowledge of Snow and avalanches (ACNA).

In Mountain lines, we have more than 10 years of experience and more than 200 people have received our courses. Ask for more information without commitment and solve all your doubts: dates, prices, number of people, location… Contact us at phone +34 973617448761 or emailing us to




2 comments on “How to act in a snow avalanche?

  1. Tamiflu on

    NZ avalanche specialist and educator Gordie Smith put this great course together. It brings together many of his photos, online videos, and text that walks you through the basics of traveling in avalanche terrain, covering (quickly) all the topics that you’d encounter in a fundamental avalanche class. It also includes an interactive exercise (Flash req’d) where you can try and find your way safely through avalanche terrain, avoiding the hotpsots where avalanches might be lurking. This resource gives students the chance to prepare, giving them a framework of theory to hang the field skills they will practice during any snow based course.


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