Written by French professor of physics, François Louchet, and published by Oxford University Press, SNOW AVALANCHES Beliefs, Facts & Science provides an interesting, demystifying, updated and practical scientific basis on the subject of snow and avalanches. François, along with Alain Duclos from data-avalanche.org, have been technical consultants to Henry and the Henry’s Avalanche Talk (HAT) team for over 15 years. They have also had a big impact on the international snow and avalanche science community as a whole.

The book is a great complement and follow-up to all of our talks and training sessions – especially our In-depth Talk on ‘Triggering’. For example, thanks to the type of scientific basis covered in this book, we’ve been able to describe in practical terms: how an avalanche can be triggered by a person from far away – even up to 1km from the slope; why avalanches are often not triggered by the first person on an unstable slope; why it can be the 10th, 20th or 100th person to eventually trigger it; and, perhaps most importantly, why an unstable slope of snow is not triggered most of the time even though it should have avalanched.

In sum, SNOW AVALANCHES Beliefs, Facts & Science provides the technical basis behind what we do at Henry’s Avalanche Talk (helping people to have a successful enjoyable time off-piste and ski touring). It is a readable, refreshing scientific reference point AND François has made it available in English!

You can order it directly from the Oxford University Press on this link


FRANÇOIS LOUCHET is Professor of Condensed Matter Physics at Grenoble University (Grenoble Institute of Technology).

Here is a description of the book in Francois’s own words:

This book provides a critical update of the most recent and innovative developments of avalanche science. It aims at re-founding avalanche science on clear scientific bases, from field observations and experiments up to mathematical and physical analysis and modelling. In this respect, it stands in a still unoccupied but fundamental niche amidst the abundant avalanche literature.

In the current context of accelerated climate warming, the book also discusses possible evolutions of snow cover extent and stability. It also shows how the present analysis can be extended, in mountainous areas, to other gravitationally induced phenomena that are likely to take over from avalanches under specific circumstances. The text is supported by online links to field experiments and lectures on triggering mechanisms, risk management, and decision making.