Great European study on Avalanches and rescues.

I’m not sure the findings can be easily implemented in the US. 

The study was done by ANENA (French Association for the Study of Snow and Avalanches). The statistics from the study of 368 avalanches over six years were very interesting.

Between 2004-2010 over 649 people were caught by avalanches while ski touring and off piste skiing in France in 368 incidents.

277 people were completely buried, and 167 died.

Half the victims were off piste skiers and snowboarders (access via ski lifts), that is 133 people over six years.

The remainder were ski tourers in back country areas.

Of the 133 victims buried in off-piste areas, 69 were found alive and more than half of them, 35 victims, were saved by the rescue services (51%).

The time for rescuers to arrive on the scene of an off-piste incident is less than 15 minutes in 60% of accidents, and less than 35 minutes in 94% of accidents.

83% of all avalanche victims survive a burial of less than 15 minutes and 54% survive between 15 and 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes, the chances of a victim’s survival decrease to 30%.

Half (45%) of buried victims was not using an avalanche beacon or RECCO,

35 of them (30%) were found with probes or dogs. Of this group just 7 (20%) survived.

Use of avalanche beacons enables rescue by people skiing with the victim or eyewitnesses (nine survivors out of 20 people rescued by their buddies) and also facilitates recovery by the rescue services (14 survivors out of 28 found).

Wearing Recco reflectors also increases the chances that the rescue services will find the victim alive (three survivors out of 6 found).

Cell phone coverage is attributed with many of the off-piste rescues because service is so good and allows rescuers to respond quickly.

See Backcountry and off piste rescue operations and methods.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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One Comment on “Great European study on Avalanches and rescues.”

  1. Avalanche are the main cause for killing the skiers and snowboarders…But the rescuers have also done their best to save them….Using of Recco reflectors is a good step taken by the rescuers..


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