The avalanche

An avalanche is a large mass of snow in motion.

Snow and ice crystals deposited on the ground form a so-called snowpack.
With the passing of time, the structure of a snowpack changes, and although it stays in the same place, it consists of several layers with different properties.
The main forces to which a snowpack is exposed are pressure, tension and shear force.

Every avalanche has a start or fracture zone where it originates, a track along which the avalanche flows or glides and a runout zone where the moving mass accumulates and comes to a standstill. During its descent, an avalanche can drag other snow masses along with it – becoming progressively larger and faster, with speeds of over 300 km/h.

Among the factors that trigger an avalanche are the terrain, altitude and slope the snow pack is located on, its orientation as well as the vegetation and the external load it is exposed to.

90% of avalanche accidents are caused by the victims themselves.

Ski resorts typically provide a snow report and "avalanche forecast" or bulletin: an overview of the general situation and the condition of the snowpack. Risks and danger levels are indicated using the official European Avalanche Danger Scale with numbers ranging from 1 to 5.

Find out what to do in the event of an avalanche accident in the "HELP" section.
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