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Avalanches
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It is a mass of unstable snow, set into motion. Unlike the glacier which is a large mass of slow moving snow and ice, avalanche is violent in nature, moves with great speed and increases in size exponentially. Avalanche is not a mysterious phenomenon, and there are ways and means to harness it, circumvent it.

 

Precautions against Avalanches

  1. Avoid crossing the slope diagonally.
  2. Cross it as high as possible where it is narrowest.
  3. Select a route through good anchors like rock, out crops or trees or crevasses wherever available.
  4. If descending or ascending, follow a route on the fall line. The fall line is that line which a snow ball would take if it is rolled down a slope. It is the shortest vertical line up or down a slope. This creates minimum stress on the snow field.
  5. Cross singly an not in groups. The person/persons crossing must be kept in constant view by the others from a sheltered place.
  6. Before crossing tie a scarf or pull the cam comforter over your face so that snow cannot enter your nose, mouth or ears. Tighten up the hood or the wind-proof around your head and also the neck, waist and hem of the wind proof coat. Loosen all equipment so that it can be easily thrown off.
  7. An avalanche cord, which is a brightly coloured cord of 30 meters in length should be tied around your waist and allowed to trail behind you. If an avalanche overtakes you, the brightly coloured cord will remain on fop facilitating rescue.
  8. If you hear an avalanche coming from above you, race across on traverse. Never try to race down hill.
  9. Each vehicle should earmark a person for keeping an uphill look out for avalanche.

 

Immediate Actions

If you are caught in an avalanche, take the following actions:-

  1. Yell, caution your team.
  2. Jettison; throw off all equipment on your person.
  3. If caught in a place where it may not stop, face uphill and take a low crouch position with both arms circling in front of your head. The avalanche may pass over you with breathing space provided due to your arms when the snow settles.
  4. If caught in a place where the avalanche may stop try to do a powerful swimming breast stroke and endeavor to keep on the surface/try rolling on to one side.
  5. As soon as the snow settles, try and create a space in front of your face for breathing.
  6. Keep calm, relax, conserve the oxygen and energy.