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Types of Avalanches

Different Types of Avalanches


Types of Avalanches

Avalanche Rescue

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An avalanche is a large volume of snow moving quickly down the side of a mountain. There are three different types of avalanches, loose snow, dry slab, and wet slab, with varying degrees of danger.

Dry Slab Avalanche
A dry slab avalanche occurs when snow slabs on the mountains lose their cohesion due to factors like melting snow or additional snowfall. Both can weigh down the top, hard layer of snow, which then causes the weak, softer snow underneath to give way. The result of this chain reaction is the dry slab avalanche.

Loose Snow Avalanche
A loose snow avalanche tends to be the least dangerous of the three types of avalanches. However, skiers and snowboarders should not disregard them because they still have the potential to cause fatalities.

Wet Slab Avalanche
A wet slab avalanche is the slowest moving type of avalance, but can still be extremely dangerous and leave unbelievable destruction behind.

Avalanche Safety
While backcountry skiers can avoid crowds and access fresh powder, skiing in an uncontrolled environment means that you are solely responsible for assessing risk and managing emergency situations. There is a real danger of getting injured or killed by an avalanche. It is imperative that backcountry skiers are skilled in mountain travel, trained in wilderness first aid, carry avalanche safety gear and most importantly - know how to use it.

Snow Study Tools for Skiers
In addition to the availability of avalanche safety clinics, for skiers venturing into the backcountry, there are snow study tool available such as a Snow Crystal Card by Brooks-Range Mountaineering Equipment Company.

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