Knowing the main equipment such as the avalanche transceivers A.R.T.VA. (pips) the probe poles and the shovel or the avalanche search and rescue techniques and the main snow digging-up techniques is important for those who practice winter sports such as freeriding and snowboarding, backcountry skiing or snowshoes hiking. They all have to face the fact that snow can be dangerous sometimes.
I often hear people saying: “ I don’t need any A.r.t.v.a or shovel because I’m not taking any risk”. Nonetheless a high percentage of incidents occur when the perception of the danger is the littlest and where there is apparently no danger.
In such cases what has occurred ?
There hasn’t been a proper evaluation of the risk that may occur while hiking or skiing: either because we don’t know the snow cover or because we are not able to detect the risk and we underestimate it.
Some hints of recent winter history:
I started practicing backcountry skiing in 1988. It was 25th April. I still remember that incredible day. Nobody used the A.r.t.v.a, the probe pole and shovel, and some used an electronic analogic device on the market called Fitre. Nobody cared much because nobody practiced snowboarding or freeriding and the first snow shoes were made of wood.
People used to practice backcountry skiing from March on; the equipment was basic and heavy and the main communication routes in the valley were slow and hard to reach. Most people used to spend the night in a hut, a shelter or a tent.
25 years have passed and I’ve seen far too many close friends die off under the avalanches. This is why I really take care of safety while practicing winter sports.
Times have changed: a lot of people are well-equipped in case of an avalanche and use quick and precise transceivers, but not all. What’s more a lot of people underestimate the risks.
I realize that, even for a professional guide, the snow cover is not easy to detect, but there is good equipment on the market that helps you not to make silly mistakes, to understand the snow report, the historic trend of the winter snow, the nivolab and several other factors which are essential for your safety.
I reckon it is really important to be prepared for all this.
For any further information about rescue training courses or courses on the use of the A.r.t.v.a don’t’ hesitate to contact me.