Avalanches are one of those natural occurrences that only Mother Nature knows when and where they're going to occur. Even with modern technology it's still impossible to know exactly when or where one is going to occur. For mountain climbers this is a major concern and they are wise to be mindful of them; avalanches kill many each year.
The physics of how and why an avalanche occurs is complex. Layers of rock and feet of snow are stacked and held together by the weight of each other. Many variables can lead to the adjustment of this bond and the forces of gravity can lead to the catastrophe.
While it's hard to predict when and where an avalanche will take place, there are times of higher probability. During the year, the transition from winter to spring will cause some snow and ice to melt which tends to trigger avalanches. Also at day break there is a higher probability due to the temperature change. Unfortunately there is no way to know when or where one is going to occur so climbers always need to exercise caution.
Stay alert while climbing and don't overburden yourself with the thought of an avalanche. This worrying may cause you to loose your concentration or even panic.
While hiking up slopes, keep some distance between the climbers. If an avalanche occurs then there will be fewer lives lost and a higher probability that someone can get assistance for the trapped victims.
There are areas of higher risk for avalanches and these should be avoided. Since an incident is more likely when a top layer of snow is loose, avoid areas where heavy snow or rain has recently occurred. A concave slope is a better choice than a convex one for climbing and hiking around since there is less snow fall or it's already avalanched.
Try to choose terrain that you are familiar with and stay in areas with rock, bushes and trees. Trees and bushes allow snow to pile up and keep the layers stable. If an avalanche occurs, trees will take the impact of the snow so there is a better chance of being out of harms way. Avalanches are much more likely to occur in areas with smooth ground so avoid these areas.
Climbers must also pay attention to the degree of the slope. Avalanches won't occur on level ground and there is little snowfall on very steep terrain. The greatest danger is in areas where the slope is between 25 and 40 degrees.
Avalanches are of real concern and climbers need to take precautions to avoid areas and times of greater chance of occurrence.
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