A Simple Framework for Reducing the Chance of an Accident
Research has shown that checklists work to reduce errors that lead to accidents. Once you have some training (for example on subjects outlined in our ‘Essentials’ Talk), it is true for endeavours like off-piste skiing and the risk of avalanches. Many accidents can be avoided if you use a framework that helps you to consistently pay attention to simple observable clues and information from the environment, as well as, clues from people around you. The same is true in risk professions such as surgery and the military.
To increase your safety, you don’t need to be perfect, just follow this off piste checklist and quick reference on a regular basis – review it the night before, in the morning before you head out and several times during the day. It will help you make decisions based on facts and things you can see rather than on distractions like ‘powder fever’ for example.
So Henry has made this ‘Off-Piste-checklist-Quick-Reference‘ available not only as a quick review of the ‘Essentials’, but also as a simple way for you and your friends to apply what you have learned, have fun and be safe! You can greatly reduce the chances of having an accident (and have more fun) off-piste with this simple downloadable ‘Off-Piste checklist-Quick-Reference‘ A5 card. click here
Previous tips of the week
Learn how to get your timings right when skiing spring snow. See this blog post henrysavalanchetalk.com/ski-smooth-tips-spring-skiing-off-piste. Get it right, and you’ll find some lovely skiing conditions. You can even apply this to on-piste skiing!
Get out there whatever the weather looks like first thing in the morning. There are bound to be some clear spells that you won’t want to miss! From our experience, there’s always lots of room on safe slopes when a sudden clearing appears… and if no clear spell happens… well, you can always go back down or ski in safe areas of the trees.
Watch out for steep N’ish facing slopes (NE through N to NW). These will be particularly unstable for the next few days.
Watch out on steep N facing slopes. This is where the best snow is to be found, but also where the most instability will be if we get much fresh on top of that weak layer of “sugar snow”.
If you intend to ski a steep pitch, ask yourself: “If this slope should avalanche, what will happen to us?”
Watch out for terrain traps (troughs, cliffs, holes, trees, lake….). Holes and gullies or anywhere the snow could pile up; cliffs that you could fall off; lakes that you could end up in. These hazards mean that the consequences of an avalanche will be much more severe.
See report on Tignes avalanche accident
Look out for slopes where there has been recent avalanche activity, and avoid similar slopes of a similar direction.
Play close attention to the official avalanche bulletins. See here to find the bulletin in your area http://www.avalanches.org/eaws/en/main.php
As the avalanche danger diminishes we tend to get more complacent. So remember to apply our Off-Piste Checklist. This will reduce your chances of having an accident (and help you to have more fun): www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/off-piste-quick-reference. Avalanche risk 2 means moderate with specific risks in specific places. Read the bulletin to see where those risks exist
Download the Meteo Ski app to your phone. It will give you fast access to the Meteo France weather forecast for all French resorts and even more importantly, you will get immediate, easy access to the avalanche bulletins without having to fight with the Meteo France website. The app is refreshingly lacking in adverts and seems to be focused on what the off piste skier needs.
Check your insurance covers you for off piste with or without a guide and without undue restrictions. You can read more about how to be sure you are covered click here