Are you safe?

The well-known beacon, probe & shovel trio are indispensable for winter hiking. Are you kitted out to enjoy soft stretches of fresh snow in complete safety?

There's nothing more exciting than setting out to explore stretches of fresh virgin snow or simply enjoy getting off the beaten track. But you shouldn't just do it off the cuff! All sorts of crevices and bumps might be hidden underneath the snow. I recommend setting out with a guide and of course the equipment necessary for an effective response in the event of an avalanche.

The must-have safety trio:

Avalanche beacon

The avalanche beacon helps to determine the right search strip to locate the victim. With current technology, this search phase can be fairly swift. However you do then need to refine your search by probing the snow to find out where to start digging. Then comes the trickiest part: you need to dig quickly to dig the buried person out.

You do also need to contact rescue services because even once you have dug them out they may need help.

Trauma sustained by burial can take many, dangerous forms. A healthcare professional is needed for diagnosis.

While waiting for the emergency team to arrive, you need to insulate the victim to prevent hypothermia. Handle them very carefully and refrain from giving them anything to drink or trying to lift them up. You must put them in recovery position if they seem to have lost consciousness. Make sure to maintain their head while moving them.

When you know you are covering dangerous ground, remember to take a rope to rope yourselves together. An ice pick might come in handy to keep steady in the event of a landslide or fall.

NB: you shouldn't try to use an avalanche beacon off the cuff. Your guide will train you to use it prior to setting off so that you can use it quickly and effectively should it become necessary.

I also advise group members to keep to a safe distance to avoid overloading the snow cover, in that this could lead to its collapse.

You should also check the weather forecast and the risk of avalanche before setting out: this information is crucial in the mountains.

You are well aware that you always need to be careful in the snow and mountains: taking care ensures that you can have a great time!