What is Avalanche?

Avalanche Gear

Avalanche Gear that is used by many rescue teams is often complex and also needed every time they are attempting to locate and rescue those caught up in the wrath of an avalanche. In earlier days and sometimes yet today, those who were going to ski or explore “high risk” areas where avalanches were known to occur the individual would essentially wear a red rope.


This red rope was made from material such as is used in parachutes. It was approximately ten meters long. This red roped or cord was attached to the back of the individual’s belt and it simply dragged along behind the individual. Then, if the individual was caught in an avalanche the hopefully the remaining portion, if any could be seen by those attempting to rescue the person. Unfortunately, many individuals today see this as an inconvenience and simply don’t use the red cord anymore.

The avalanche gears that rescue teams often use now are extensive. An avalanche transceiver or known by many as a beacon is used to actually locate the victim or victims. A probe which is a portable collapsible device is used when a victim is found. This probe is extended to probe into the snow to determine the location beneath the snow in yards or meters of the victim.

When there is more than one victim buried, unfortunately the probe must be used to determine the order of rescue. Those who are shallowest are found and dug out first. These victims have a greater rate of survival than those buried deeper in the snow. Of course at this point a shovel is required to dig the victims out. Snow left by an avalanche can often be very hard.

Some of the additional gear used by some rescue teams now is global positioning systems. These GPS systems can sometimes find the victims faster but not always. The most important part of the gear used in an avalanche rescue attempt amazingly is witnesses. Those who might have seen the individuals caught in the avalanche last. And at what position they might have been. Although the avalanche itself could have actually carried a victim much further than the last known position.

The survival time for an avalanche victim is short, therefore rescue workers must respond very quickly and be equipped with the right avalanche gear to attempt to locate and rescue those caught in an avalance.