Safety In The Mountains

Arva

Safety in the mountains is at all times our highest priority. Winter puts on its pretty white coat but this also brings new risks to the mountains such as avalanches, cold, poor visibility and bad weather. The word avalanche in itself is sometimes enough to put people off the idea of venturing out, yet this risk is really very limited, particularly when you are with a trained mountain professional whose main task is to keep everyone safe while they enjoy themselves.

Throughout winter, the level of risk is monitored by Meteo France, who publish a risk scale.  Your guide uses this information and also has extensive training and experience in this field.  They know the ‘safe’ places to go, those which combine beauty with low risk, and according to the time of season and past snowfall, will adapt each day’s itinerary to remain within this safety boundary. This is one reason why published itineraries in winter are often simply a guide – the actual itinerary often varies depending on snow and weather conditions. Your guide’s task is to choose the best itinerary each day based on conditions and their assessment of the group’s capabilities. This may well involve changes in accommodation which the guide will not hesitate to organise if necessary.

For all our ski touring and snowshoeing outings an avalanche transceiver, is an essential item. This is a device which emits high frequency sounds able to be detected and searched for by someone else with the same device in the case of an avalanche. The use of this must not discourage anyone, rather the contrary.  You learn how to use it and as such you are being taught something about the nature of the snow, winter in the mountains and certain survival skills which may will help you to be more self-sufficient in the future, or at least participate actively in any group search if required.

An avalanche transceiver is an expensive item, but along with a shovel and probe, an essential part of winter safety. These are either provided in your tour price or can be hired. Equally important is being well prepared. See our snowshoe packing list, and ski touring packing list to make sure you have the clothing you need to enjoy winter adventures in the mountains.

For further reading see our blog post on Avalanche Safety and Risk at Altitude.