Avalanche Education - Questions to Ponder

Questions to ponder when you venture into snow-covered mountains:

1. What slope angle produces the most avalanches? Statistically, 38 degree slopes produce the most avalanches and 30-45 degrees is considered an avalanche slope.  Under certain conditions, slopes less than 30 degrees can slide.

2. How can you discover the weak layers in the snowpack which can contribute to slab avalanches? You can discover weak layers by digging a snowpit and performing snowpack tests such as the compression test, the shovel shear test, or the Rutschblock test.

3. By studying the layering in a snowpit and using snow stability testing methods, avalanches are quite predictable.  True or False? Avalanches are, for the most part, unpredictable for a given slope at a given time.  Our observations and testing techniques can only reduce the uncertainty, but not eliminate it.

4. What are the chances of survival if you are buried in an avalanche for 15 minutes?  For 30 minutes? After 15 minutes burial time, statistics show survival rate of around 85%.  After 30 minutes the survival rate drops below 50%.

5. What is the most important factor to consider when traveling in or near avalanche terrain? Terrain choice is the most important factor in staying safe in or near avalanche terrain.

6. What are the 3 most important weather factors which have immediate effect on snow stability? Sign up now!

7. What aspect of avalanche rescue is frequently overlooked in rescue training but is critical? Sign up now!

8. What three factors make up the traditional avalanche triangle used to determine avalanche hazard? Sign up now!

9. What is a fourth factor which may be even more important to be aware of in mitigating avalanche risk? Sign up now!


Need more information? Click here for class descriptions.


Special Note To Students

Most of the understanding and techniques addressed during Ridge Explorations avalanche  courses require extensive practice before you can expect to be proficient. No course, this one included, can provide all that experience.  

To establish and maintain proficiency in the knowledge and techniques covered in Ridge Explorations courses, you will have to practice extensively and regularly on your own after leaving the program.  Additionally, avalanche education continues to evolve as new research becomes available. To remain current, you will need to seek out opportunities for continued education.

No course can fully guarantee your safety, either during the course or after you leave.  During the courses, the instructors will manage risk and involve you in discussions about what is appropriate, what is not, and they will inform you of any unusual or exceptional hazards or risks involved in carrying out lessons and exercises. Whether you will be “safer” after the course or not depends entirely on how you apply your new skills and knowledge when in the mountains.

The instructors who teach Ridge Explorations avalanche courses take no responsibility for your safety after your course ends.


American Avalanche Association AIARE logo_caa2 Association of Canadian Mountain Guides Canadian Ski Guide Association
Professional Member of AAA and Affiliate Member of CAA, ACMG, and CSGA
Avalanche classes meet American Avalanche Association education guidelines