More snow on the way for the “opening” of the ski areas, but not the ski-lifts.
The avalanche danger rating has decreased from a 4 last Sunday to a 2 below 2300 m and a 3 at altitudes higher than this.
The lower rating of 2 below 2300 m is due to warming at the start of the week combined with some rain below and around 2300 m, which helped to ‘glue’ the snowpack together from that altitude down. Above 2300 m there is still a weak layer in the snowpack, especially on North’ish facing slopes. This weak layer will be something to watch out for, especially with the fresh snow that is forecast on and off over the next week or so.
You may be out ski-touring in and around areas that you’re very familiar and comfortable with. Remember, though, that this year, with the ski lifts not working, the situation is very different and a lot less stable than normal. The reasons for this are that:
- There has been far less skier compaction than usual. (Normally thousands of skiers pack down the snow on and next to the piste, causing a stabilising effect on the snowpack). This, in combination with:
- Very limited avalanche control from the local authorities.
A weak layer in the snowpack is not uncommon at this time of year, but what is different is these two factors above.
Meteo France’s daily avalanche bulletins are now coming for the season ahead. They appear from about 4 pm the day before. If you’re in the N French Alps, you can view them on meteofrance.com/meteo-montagne/alpes-du-nord/enneigement, then clicking ‘Risques Avalanches’ and selecting your particular area.
Safety is Freedom!
There’s a long list of evidence that shows how applying simple frameworks, checklists and memory aids reduce risk in ‘high consequence, low feedback’ risk contexts prevalent in: aviation, military, finance, health care, avalanche terrain etc.
See our HAT quick reference ‘Safety is Freedom Framework’ for accident reduction in avalanche terrain. The Framework is aimed at all levels of off-piste and touring: for beginners: a point of departure; for experts: a guide for further learning; for pros: it’s a great framework for client training and quick memory aid.
The Framework is best if accompanied by training such as HAT events and on-snow courses, but it’s also a useful companion for all training as it focuses on the basic key points that all avalanche training courses address – it helps you to keep focused on the essential accident reduction points.