Days of snow makes for perfect conditions for winter sports in the Alps – would be because of the avalanche danger. In Austria, the authorities have declared the highest alert level 5: In the Styrian Northern Alps the avalanche danger in some regions of “very large”. “It is so large amounts of snow have fallen even on the mountains, which would normally be considered safe, the avalanche danger can prevail,” says Christoph Hummel, a security expert at the German Alpine club (DAV).

skiers should not leave the secured ski slopes, to warn the Austrian authorities. Also Entering the forests and in view of the danger of trees falling is not advisable. “Arrangements will not comply with the authorities now, is no trivial offence, but life is dangerous,” said the Deputy head of the Styria, Michael Schickhofer. He advised all the citizens and tourists, to stay in secure locations, barriers to take seriously and not necessary activities, in the outdoors. However, in the past few days already to several deaths.

How high is the risk on the slopes? And how high off of them?

Who is in the winter vacation at a ski resort on the groomed slopes, should not have to Worry about avalanches, says Thomas Bucher, the German Alpine club (DAV) in Munich. If blasting and other measures are not sufficient, to lock the ski also ski lifts and ski runs, as in the past few days, for example, at the Brauneck or in many areas in Austria.

On the slopes, lurking very different hazards – the probability to have a prepared exit an accident is, in General, even higher than in the case of ski-touring in the area. “This is because there are ski resorts more falls, collisions, torn ligaments, and broken legs,” says Christoph Hummel, a security expert at the German Alpine club (DAV).

accidents in nature but would take compared more often to a tragic end On such a ski, the risk of a fatal “accident is higher,” says Hummel. The DAV estimates the risks due to the number of accidents and regular survey of its members. Deadly avalanches are, at least in the comparatively low German Alps, rarely in 2017, it only gave the data for the Avalanche warning service Bavaria two Dead, 2016, 2015 no.

Far more avalanche accidents are to be deplored in Austria and Switzerland. In Austria, the Board of Trustees for Alpine security and the Alpine police (KFA) counted from 1. November 2017 to 1. November 2018, a total of 65 dead of winter athletes. 17 of them were killed by avalanches in open terrain. On slopes, however, 29 people were killed. According to Bucher from the DAV, the number of accidents tourers over the years more is not greater, even though more and more people ski-touring company.

What are ski touring?

ski-touring and snow-Shoe of popular sports are Hiking in the Alpine countries, many peaks can be visited in the Winter even more frequently than in the summer. The avalanche danger in the area is dependent on the amount of snow, and many other factors, such as the properties of the Snow cover, direction, temperature, Wind, and of the inclination of the slopes. So avalanche-prone are not often recognize on the first sight.

“Who is off the slopes, you must know what he’s doing,” says Bucher from the DAV. The site should be able to assess the hikers and the criteria for slope ascents. Inexperienced close to the best a mountain guide. In order to reduce the avalanche risk, you need to master the ski touring safety equipment.

“If I do get into an avalanche, am I to rely on others to dig me out,” says Bucher from the DAV. In the case of an organised mountain rescue by helicopter a lot of time pass away. The probability of Survival for a Victim decreases already after 15 minutes, drastically. “The group must be aware of the fact that she is responsible.”

The standard equipment for ski-touring and backcountry groomed trails include avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel. “The devices are not self-explanatory,” says Bucher, the handling and the so-called rescue needs to be learned. Basic skills are taught in courses, regular own to Refresh is important. Alone, no skiers should be off the slopes.

An avalanche Airbag is a useful additional equipment according to assessment Buchers. “It reduces the probability to be completely buried.” The expert emphasizes, however: “This is no life insurance.” First of all, the winter athletes do not need to trigger the Airbag in case of an emergency for yourself what happens.

And then there is terrain constellations, in which the Airbag won’t work. When an avalanche ends, for example, from a counter-slope in a dam zone, use the backpack nothing.


Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.