Mountain Security, Safety and Avalanche Awareness

Last Updated: 
Tue, 03 Mar 2015

Alpine climbing in Chamonix is popular in both Winter and Summer seasons, and your safety and the safety of those around you must always be the top priority.

If you plan to ski or snowboard off-piste it is essential that you understand the Avalanche Risk Level for each local area and plan your skiing accordingly. The following Table summarises the five levels of Avalanche Risk.

Risk Level Snowpack Stability Avalanche probability
1. Low risk Generally well bonded and stable. Triggering is possible by groups of skiers on a few very steep extreme slopes. Small natural avalanches (sluffs) are possible
2. Moderate Less well bonded on some steep slopes, otherwise generally well bonded. Triggering is possible by groups of skiers, particularly on steep slopes. Large natural avalanches may occur but are not likely.
3. Considerable Moderately to weakly bonded on many steep slopes Triggering is possible, even by individual skiers. The bulletin may indicate many slopes which are particularly affected. Medium and occasionally large natural avalanches may occur.
4. High Weakly bonded in most places. Triggering is likely, even with single skiers, on many steep slopes. Frequent medium or large sized avalanches are likely.
5. Very high (Extreme) Weakly bonded and largely unstable. Numerous large natural avalanches are likely, even on moderately steep terrain.

It is a common mistake to assume that there is only danger in climbing mountains during winter, however this is far from the truth as many of the highest peaks maintain there extreme cold weather, and avalanche and crevasse danger throughout the whole year, even in summer. Climbing in winter, however, takes on a more serious note as the conditions become even more unpredictable. With less hours of sunlight temperatures can fall dramatically, approach is normally on skis and there are added dangers like avalanche, ice fall and unseen crevasses. The weather forecast should be checked in advance to discern the conditions of the routes themselves. Popular routes usually have some degree of protection such as wires and chains to outline the route, in some cases there are bolts which you can attach your carabiner to in order to ensure your safety. However if you are walking off track, known as scrambling, all appropriate safety equipment must be on hand to ensure your safety. Why not hire a UIAGM Mountain Guide? or take a mountaineering course.

Mountain Safety, Alpine Security and Avalanche Awareness
The PGHM Chamonix, mountain rescue
Avalanche Awareness kit and gear
Important Contacts:

Office de Haute Montagne in Chamonix

(route condition & weather forecast)

P.G.H.M. (mountain rescue)

Maison de la Montagne: 190, place de l'église, 74400 Chamonix

69, route de la Mollard, 74400 Chamonix
Tel: +33 (0)4 50 53 22 08 Tel: +33 (0)4 50 53 16 89
Fax: +33 (0)4 50 53 27 74  

Recommended Books

  • Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue: Reading Glaciers, Crevasse Rescue Techniques, Routefinding, Expedition Skills by Andrew Selters.
  • Avalanche Safety: For Skiers & Climbers by Tony Daffern.

Other Books about Alpine Security, Safety and Avalanche Awareness