How To Survive An Avalanche

Learn how to survive a fast-moving sea of snow coming down upon you.


You might have read about skiers, snowmobilers, or snowboarders in the news that are caught in an avalanche several times over the winter. Some of them are lucky to survive, while others are rather unfortunate. This is why if you decide to go on a climbing trip, it’s essential to learn about avalanche safety first as it may help you survive in the event of an avalanche.  

If you want to survive an avalanche, it’s probably best to avoid climbing mountains where they have high chances of happening. But sometimes the beauty of those snow-covered mountains are so irresistible that we still end up jumping them even though the risks of an avalanche is high.

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Tips To Follow In The Case Of An Avalanche 

How To Survive An Avalanche
How To Survive An Avalanche
  • Forget all about your equipment. Abandon your snowmobiles, skis, snowboards, snowshoes, and poles because they will only get in your way and get hit by a fast-moving sea of snow.
  • If you can, find shelter behind trees, rocks, or vehicles.
  • Once you already find a shelter, crouch down and turn your back towards the avalanche.
  • If you are caught in the open, the best thing for you to do is to try to swim through it. Just do your best to avoid hitting any objects along the way. It’s possible to float through the snow since they share some similarities with how the water moves.
  • You should look out for any terrain features such as groves of trees, cliffs, boulder fields or anything that might be hazardous for you when you get hit by the avalanche.
  • As the fast-moving sea of snow comes near you, take in a deep breath and don’t forget to cover your nose and mouth. After that, try your best to thrust, kick, swim so you can get to the surface of the snow. The goal here is to ride on top of the snow and attempt to get off it by swimming to its edge.
  • Don’t even try opening your mouth to yell when the avalanche already catches you; the snow can quickly fill up your mouth and nostrils.
  • Once it is over muster all your energy to bring your hands and arms up to create an air space so you can now breath.

How To Rescue Yourself In An Avalanche

How To Survive An Avalanche
How To Survive An Avalanche

Surviving an avalanche is a tough ordeal. But if you followed the tips above you should be able to endure it. Now the next thing to do is to get yourself out of the snow. Here are some tips on how to rescue yourself in an avalanche:

  • Once the avalanche is over, it becomes a like cement, so you have to work yourself out of the snow.
  • Quickly dig yourself out of the snow. Remember that you only have a limited amount of time before the snow becomes solid.
  • Create an air shaft by shoving one of your arms towards the surface. Move it around as fast as you can.
  • This will create a breathing space for you. Remember not to panic and to work yourself out methodically to prevent exhaustion.
  • Conserve your breath as much as possible as you dig your way out of the snow.
  • If you are still disoriented, you need to find which direction leads to the surface.
  • If you can see some daylight above you, the snow layer is thin. You need to slowly work your way out of it.
  • If you are buried deep into the snow, create a small space in front of your mouth and spit on it. Observe which direction the gravity pulls your spit and then work your way out in the opposite direction.
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