Hangout with Henry - finding the best routes, navigating safely

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The people who have the most fun off piste find the best routes.  This is about where the best snow is, away from the crowds, where the safe snow is and knowing the best way out and back home.  Some of this is navigation, some is avalanche awareness, it always involves understanding the conditions, sometimes you need a map.  You always need to know where you are.
 

Join Henry on SUNDAY 1800GMT to discuss how to do this

Henry will tell us how he finds is way around, especially when he goes into less familiar terrain.
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Hangout with Henry - How to find the best off-piste guides

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The recording of our live broadcast discussion tonight.

 
The Hangout kicks off with Henry's introduction on the current conditions and where to find the best snow. Henry also discusses the recent avalanche accidents in Val d'Isere and what we can learn from them.
 
The second half (from 26.17) of the hangout looks at how to find the best off piste guide. So one who will meet your needs and give you a perfect day out.
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Questions people are asking

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Avalanche above closed piste Santons (Radio Val d Isere)
People are asking about the current conditions.  This picture from Jean Christophe Souillac shows how easily an avalanche can be triggered next to piste.  There was no-one in this avalanche, but if they had been it would have been bad as all the snow piles up in the bottom of the bowl.
 
We just got these questions from a journalist and thought you would like to see our answers
 

What may have been the triggers of the avalanche in the Savoie region this week?

Dry slab avalanches are triggered by extra weight.
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Off Piste Snow Report : 9th - 13th January 2016

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Lots of Slabs releasing - small can be dangerous if it buries you into a hole.. Photo by Jean-Christophe Souillac.

 

Unsettled weather conditions will continue, with high winds and snowfall. Off-piste areas remaining very unstable. 

Saturday 9th: A SW weather system is in place, bringing strong winds gusting up to 60 km/hr. Cloudy with probable flat-light conditions.

Two avalanche accidents in Val d'Isere in one day

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The site of one avalanche accident on The Kern (close to the Face). Picture source Radio Val d Isere

Two accidents in one day

After 60 cm of snow had fallen in Val d'Isère over two days, the danger rating was 4 on a scale of 5.  Radio Val have reported that possibly the lure of the powder was greater than the ability to make a reasoned assessment of the danger.
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Assessment of risk after a new snowfall

Picture of triggered avalanche in danger rating level 3
One of the most important things to remember about avalanche forecasts and warnings is that: 'unstable or dangerous' means you MIGHT trigger an avalanche on a steep slope. You probably won't, but you could. If you do, it could be big enough to kill you or someone in your group. So even if the chances are that you won't trigger a big avalanche... but you could (which is basically what considerable/high danger ratings mean), you need to take steps in order to make sure that you definitely will not trigger one.

Overview of Ride Hard ! Ride Safe The Essentials

It depends on you

...but you can still have a great time AND be safe off-piste.

See how on our brief overview and new on-line talk below:

You can watch the first 20 minutes of The Essentials talk in the video clip below for FREE.  If you then want to watch the whole Essentials Talk see RIDE HARD ! RIDE SAFE - THE ESSENTIALS  (Part 1 is free and parts 2, 3 and 4 cost £20 to rent for 6 months) click here

 

 

These slides show you points that form a checklist against the human factor! Have fun out there.

off piste avalanche Henry's Avalanche Talk
off piste avalanche Henry's Avalanche Talk
off piste avalanche Henry's Avalanche Talk
off piste avalanche Henry's Avalanche Talk
off piste avalanche Henry's Avalanche Talk

Digging smart - time can be saved!!

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With widespread use of digital beepers and increased attendance at beeper training courses, search times for self contained rescues have decreased significantly. So recreational skiers are doing better at rescue techniques in advance of the rescue services arriving on the scene.  But the digging phase remains the most time-consuming part of an avalanche rescue. Being quicker at digging offers potential for reducing overall rescue times and increasing survival.

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HAT Avalanche Transceiver training

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Henry briefing a group in Wimbledon Common

HAT is now running beeper training events in UK 

We would argue that it is a bit impolite to ski off-piste with friends, carry all the safety equipment, but have no training in how to use it.

In-Resort Programmes Winter Season 2015/16

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Clare

Henry Schniewind, founder of Henry's Avalanche Talk (HAT), and off-piste ski guide, is an internationally renowned snow & avalanche expert, who studied avalanche forecasting as part of a geology degree in the US and then moved to the French Alps.  He has given over 1000 talks and courses in the last 25 years, including presenting at international snow science conferences.  He has published many papers and articles - often in the British press.
off piste avalanche Henry's Avalanche Talk
off piste avalanche Henry's Avalanche Talk
off piste avalanche Henry's Avalanche Talk
off piste avalanche Henry's Avalanche Talk
off piste avalanche Henry's Avalanche Talk
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