Treks & Expeditions (P) Ltd

Europe - Asia (established 1981)

Avalanche Scale Avalanche Scale

Avalanche Scale

European avalanche hazard scale for snowshoeing, skiing or traveling off-piste

The following is the standardized European Avalanche Hazard Scale, used throughout Europe for approximating risk factors associated with snowpack and terrain. It serves only as a very rough, overall estimate of avalanche conditions, not localized specific assessment or a ‘go – no go’ standard. Only on-the-spot assessment on various aspects of individual slopes, done by trained persons using standardized methods of snow condition measurements can offer a reasonably accurate evaluation of the danger level of any slope at a specific time. Conditions vary from one location to another even on a given slope, and conditions can change rapidly from morning to afternoon, as temperatures changes, wind and other meteorological factors take effect. There are no absolutes in avalanche assessment – only judicious and well-informed decisions offer the safest possibilities. Each individual or group must decide when to turn around or postpone travel in the backcountry. Be prudent – an avalanche does not care who you are, who you are following or what you know. Unless you are carrying a shovel, probe and wearing a beacon and know how to use them, you are a statistic waiting to happen. Get trained or travel only with trained professionals. Wearing a beacon does not keep you alive – using your head, experience and practice offer you increased safety.

1 – LOW The snowpack is generally well bonded and stable. Triggering is generally possible only with high additional loads [2] and few very steep extreme slopes. Only a few small natural avalanches (sluffs) possible.
2 – MODERATE The snowpack is moderately well bonded on some steep slopes[1] otherwise generally well bonded. Triggering possible with high additional loads [2] , particularly on the steep slopes indicated in the bulletin. Large natural avalanches not likely.
3 – CONSIDERABLE The snowpack is weakly bonded in most steep slopes [1]. Triggering possible, sometimes even with low additional loads [2] . The bulletin indicates many slopes which are particularly affected. In certain conditions, medium and occasionally large-sized natural avalanches may occur.
4 – HIGH The snowpack is weakly bonded in most steep slopes [1]. Triggering probable even with low additional loads [2] on many steep slopes. In some conditions, frequent medium or large-size natural avalanches are likely.
5 – VERY HIGH The snowpack is generally weakly bonded and largely unstable. Numerous large natural avalanches are likely, even in moderately steep terrain.
degree of hazard : 1 & 2 3 & 4 5
signal : Avalanche 1 - 2 Avalanche 3 - 4  Avalanche 5

(1) generally described in more detail in the avalanche bulletin, regarding altitude, aspect, type of terrain etc.
(2) additional load : HIGH – e.g. group of skiers, piste machine, avalanche blasting
LOW : e.g. skier, walker
Steep slopes : slopes with an incline of more than about 30°
Steep extreme slopes: particularly unfavorable in terms of the incline, terrain profile, proximity to ridge, smoothness of underlying ground surface.