Avalanche Preparedness

avalanche GIF

Picture this: you are marveling at the pristine beauty of the mountain ranges when the ground shakes beneath you.

Instinctively, you look up.

An enormous wall of snow is rushing towards you at tremendous speed.

Stuff of nightmares.

avalanche preparedness

Mt Everest base camp after a deadly avalanche killed 22 in 2015

What Is an Avalanche?

An avalanche is a mass of unstable snow, rock, and debris that collapses under its own weight and then moves quickly down the side of a mountain, gathering mass as it moves. Avalanches can weigh hundreds of thousands of tons and move at over 100 miles per hour.

By the time even the smallest avalanche reaches the end of the slope, it has the collective momentum of 400 freight trains.

All in all, it’s a pretty exciting near death experience, if you can arrange one for yourself.

Who Should Be Prepared?

As you have probably suspected, the most avalanche-prone regions in the US are located in the Rockies. According to National Geographic, about 100,000 events occur every year in the USA. Sorry, ski bunnies!

Anytime you’re in the mountains while snow is on the ground, an avalanche is possible, but you should be especially wary if you are in the locations highlighted below. Whether you’re a skier, snowboarder, hiker, or snowball fighter, it’s worth being aware of the risks and taking some precautionary gear with you on your journey.

avalanche preparedness risk map
Avalanche-prone regions in the US, map by FEMA

In this guide, we’ll get you fully prepared so you can stay safe during an avalanche:

  1. How do avalanches occur?
  2. Avalanche safety gear and training
  3. How to survive an avalanche
  4. Avalanche FAQs

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.