Obstacles in Mountain Tourism

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Of all natural disasters, an avalanche is the most threatening to people making an emergency transition. Suffice it to say that in mountaineering, those killed and seriously injured as a result of avalanches make up 19% of the total number of victims, in mountain tourism – 28.8%.

Not only the catastrophic scale of the avalanche is dangerous, but also the most dwarf ones. Imagine that a “sheet” of snow sliding down a slope measuring 25×30 m and a thickness of 20 cm will have a volume of 150 m3 and a weight of 20 to 30 tons!

The famous Austrian mountain guide Sepp Kurtz died under a snow landslide with a side size of 6×4 m and a snow cover of 24 cm!

The rules of conduct in the avalanche danger zone are described in sufficient detail and many times in the popular and special tourist literature. Below for general familiarization are some excerpts from the “Memo on the action of groups of tourists in the avalanche-hazardous area”, which include summarized recommendations for tourists making a winter hike.

It is not recommended to overcome: – smooth slopes with a steepness of more than 25 – 30 °, without stones, trees and bushes protruding above the surface of the snow, especially covered with dry snow, lying on a hard slippery layer – slopes lit by the sun, with wet snow and numerous “snowy” snails ”- slopes or other similar places with traces of fresh avalanches or landslides of snow. It is dangerous to move forward: – if heavy snow is falling or has just passed – if large snow cornices hang over the slope – if snow has subsided with the characteristic sound “ooh!”, Which indicates the presence of a layer of weak adhesion – “deep frost” – – in conditions of poor visibility or in case of its deterioration – – with a sharp change in weather conditions. The direction of movement should be chosen under the protection of obstacles standing in the way of a possible avalanche (stones, bushes, trees) along gentle and icy sections, buttresses, rocky and snowy ridges, even if it lengthens the path and requires undesirable climb.

The ascent path to the pass (or descent) must pass along convex, preferably snowless, relief forms (rocks, stones). On treeless slopes, especially with loose snow, it is better to prefer the movement without skis, “in the forehead”, avoiding the “cutting” of the slope.

It is safest to cross avalanche-hazardous areas above the line of the main snow collection, on the forested slopes cross the “ridges” from avalanches in the upper part, closer to the border of the forest, the windward and shadow slopes are safer than the leeward and sunny ones.

During the transition, it is necessary to place the observer in a safe place with a good overview of the covered area. He must monitor the movement of the group and fix in the event of an avalanche the place of disappearance of the participant, warn of danger.

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