Part C Safety Rules

1. General

The practice of a few simple rules can minimize the danger or hazards in avalanche areas. Rules such as adjusting equipment; selection of routes; selection of tactical locations; weather; ascent and descent; observation and testing; proper timing; and use of avalanche cord should be adhered to whenever it becomes necessary to negotiate potential avalanche areas.

2. Equipment

Adjusting Equipment. To ensure freedom of your legs and arms, you must remove the ice axe safety strap from your wrist. When using skis, loosen the bindings to facilitate removal, and remove the ski pole straps from your wrists. Skis may become tangled, restrict movement, and be dragged under the sliding snow. When snow conditions permit, danger zones may be negotiated safely on foot, carrying the skis. When skiing, you should execute all movements with caution. Packs and weapons are either removed or loosened.

3. Routes

Selection of Routes. You should learn the avalanche paths and, whenever possible, detour around the hazardous slopes. You could move on the crest of a ridge but never on the overhang of a cornice. You should avoid moving along the bottom of narrow, V-shaped valleys (Figure 1-10) where a disturbance could cause a double avalanche and fill the narrow valley floor with masses of snow. Movement along the middle of wide, U-shaped valleys is less dangerous, since avalanches occurring there would tend to expend their force on the wide floor of the valley with little danger to troops moving in the middle. When climbing, you should not move above natural barriers such as moraine (Figure 111) located on the valley floor, since a slide could collide with the barrier.

r gure 1-10 Dangers of Double Avalanches

4. Locations

Selection of Tactical Locations. Great care must be taken when selecting battle positions, outposts, command posts, security elements, battery positions, bivouac sites, and administrative support bases in the areas where hazardous conditions exist.

5. Weather

The latest weather forecast should be obtained from the best available source before a move. During the move, you should be alert for any signs of change in the weather. Any sudden change can be dangerous.

6. Movement

Ascent and Descent. When avalanche slopes must be ascended or descended, they are climbed straight up or straight down, preferably along a line of protruding rocks, ledges, and trees where the snow cover is less likely to slide. Traversing back and forth is avoided since the snow cover could be dissected and disturbed. Ravines, gullies, and low terrain features, which are locations of snow deposits, are avoided.

Figure 1-11. Danger ot Avalanche Against Moraine Barrier.

• Observation and Testing. The area to be traversed must be constantly observed for signs of danger. Before you enter a dangerous slope, you should test a small area of the same grade and exposure. Wind slab formations should be avoided since they give a false impression of their solidity. The sun's shadow must be observed; when it points directly at the slope, the sun action is at its maximum. When unsure of a slope, you should seek the protection of heavy timber, wind-beaten slopes, and terrain barriers.

• Proper Timing. When movement over the areas of avalanche danger is required, the distance between the individuals of the climbing party should be increased in accordance with the local conditions and the area to be negotiated. Only the least possible number of individuals are exposed to this danger at one time. If a dangerous slope, deep hollow, or gully must be traversed, let one man test the slope, belayed with the climbing rope by other members of the party. Visual contact is maintained and, if necessary, warning posts are established or observers are stationed at safe locations along the route.

• Use of Avalanche Cord. When climbers are on reconnaissance missions in avalanche areas, especially when testing, one end of a brightly colored cord (15 to 20 meters [49 to 65 feet] long) is tied around the body and trailed behind. This brightly colored avalanche cord is a safety measure and facilitates location and rescue of individuals buried by an avalanche, since the cord tends to remain on or near the surface of the slide.

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