Before every tour each person should check the avalanche bulletin and the weather to gain an overview of the conditions. The avalanche bulletin provides an overview of the current avalanche situation as well as forecasts of avalanche danger, snowpack and weather conditions in all regions. However, because each slope is different, the risk of avalanche triggering can vary from region to region. With the graphical reduction method, factors such as danger levels, slope steepness, conditions and aspect can be combined to yield an estimate of the risk of an avalanche. The more experience a person has, the better and more in-depth his or her assessment of an individual danger situation will be. Thus, it is possible for a slope to be rated at a lower danger level than that specified in the avalanche bulletin.
SLOPE STEEPNESS INFO
> 40°
35°
to
40°
30°
to
35°
< 30°
AVALANCHE BULLETIN INFO
favorable conditionsINFO
unfavorable conditionsINFO
low
risk
caution
high
risk
  • OUR ADVICE:

    Touring is relatively safe; avalanche accidents are very rare (but still possible). Danger signs should always be heeded.
  • OUR ADVICE:

    Touring is relatively safe; avalanche accidents are very rare (but still possible). Danger signs should always be heeded.
  • OUR ADVICE:

    Caution should be taken; the risk must be weighed for each individual slope. Behavior must be adapted to the risk, and the route must be selected carefully. Keep a distance of >10m between individual skiers to avoid additional loading, and tour in small groups only. Skiers must descend the slope one at a time and wait at safe gathering points. Anyone who does not have the necessary experience and training should AVOID these routes.
  • OUR ADVICE:

    Caution should be taken; the risk must be weighed for each individual slope. Behavior must be adapted to the risk, and the route must be selected carefully. Keep a distance of >10m between individual skiers to avoid additional loading, and tour in small groups only. Skiers must descend the slope one at a time and wait at safe gathering points. Anyone who does not have the necessary experience and training should AVOID these routes.
  • OUR ADVICE:

    The danger level is very high; this slope is to be avoided!
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SLOPE STEEPNESS

DETERMINING SLOPE STEEPNESS USING THE MAP
MEASURING THE SLOPE STEEPNESS USING A CLINOMETER

The slope steepness can easily be measured in the field using a clinometer. Various models are available and are very easy to use. If you do not have a clinometer, you can easily determine the slope angle using your ski poles.

The ski pole test (using ski poles of the same length) is an easy way to yield information about the gradient of a slope during a tour. A ski pole is dropped downhill by the grip in the snow and then picked up again with the tip of the pole not being moved. The second pole is held out with the grip against the grip of the first pole, serving as a pendulum.

If the tip of the pendulum pole touches the surface of the snow below the imprint made by the first pole, the slope is steeper than 30°. Each 10 cm that the pendulum pole tip lies further downhill than the first pole imprint is equivalent to an additional 3° of slope steepness. If the pole tip touches the surface within the first pole imprint, the slope is less than 30°.

Determining slope steepness using the map

The slope gradient can easily be determined using a topographic map and a slope ruler. For this purpose, a topographic map, preferably one at a scale of 1:25,000, and a slope ruler (also with a 1:25,000 scale) are required.

Using the slope ruler

The slope ruler is suitable for use with a map at a scale of 1:25,000. It shows the incline in steps of five degrees, below which are lines separated by spaces of varying widths. For the measurement, the spacing between the lines on the slope ruler matching the spacing between contour lines on the map yields the gradient of the slope.

Using the map

Select the section of slope that the gradient measurement should be made on. The steepness of the slope can be determined from the contour line spacing. Place the slope ruler at a right angle to the contour lines and slide it up or down along the map until two adjacent ruler lines line up with two contour lines. Now the steepness can be read off of the ruler. The slope gradient is …°.

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AVALANCHE BULLETIN

Every tour plan should include a look at the avalanche bulletin. The avalanche bulletin provides an overview of the snowpack, the weather conditions on the mountain and, most importantly, the current avalanche danger. The European Avalanche Danger Scale levels have been defined uniformly throughout the Alpine region. The issued danger level always refers to a region and can vary locally on individual slopes. A danger level of 3 means that some steep slopes in a region can be safe whilst others in the same region can be extremely dangerous.

The latest danger level can be found in the corresponding avalanche bulletin.

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Favorable Conditions

There are often numerous different slope shapes and aspects. The avalanche bulletin indicates the areas (elevations, aspects, and terrain features) that should be handled with caution or even avoided. The actual avalanche danger on a given slope can be higher or lower due to various factors.

To better estimate the danger, it is important to decide whether the conditions prevailing on the selected slope are favorable or unfavorable. The slopes specified in the bulletin and for which warnings have been issued are obviously “unfavorable”. Also, observations can be made to determine if the “unfavorable” factors (conditions) apply or not, and the results can be included in the danger evaluation.

The following conditions are favorable:

If no decision can be made regarding the conditions because of a lack of observations or information, unfavorable conditions should be assumed.

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Unfavorable Conditions

There are often numerous different slope shapes and aspects. The avalanche bulletin indicates the areas (elevations, aspects, and terrain features) that should be handled with caution or even avoided. The actual avalanche danger on a given slope can be higher or lower due to various factors.

To better estimate the danger, it is important to decide whether the conditions prevailing on the selected slope are favorable or unfavorable. The slopes specified in the bulletin and for which warnings have been issued are obviously “unfavorable”. Also, observations can be made to determine if the “unfavorable” factors (conditions) apply or not, and the results can be included in the danger evaluation.

The following conditions are unfavorable:

If no decision can be made regarding the conditions because of a lack of observations or information, unfavorable conditions should be assumed.