The worst avalanche season in five years – proper gear can improve the luck to survive
Almost 160 people died in avalanches last winter, the worst in Europe in five years. This coming winter may also be dismal when El Niño is expected to provide large amounts of snow to many areas. It’s best to avoid avalanches, but if you get caught, you need to be to be properly equipped.
The last winter’s avalanche season took 158 lives in Europe, the majority in the Alps. That is the most fatalities in one season since 2009-2010 (194 deaths). The statistics are compiled by RECCO Advanced Rescue Technology and based on accident data from the European members of the International Commission for Alpine Rescue, ICAR.
”The reason for all the deaths in the Alps can be linked to a situation that people were not used to. A deeply buried and persistent weak layer created a potentially fragile situation, like a house built of cards but with a very strong roof. Avalanches were difficult to trigger but when they released they produced very large avalanches”, explains Dale Atkins, RECCO’s avalanche expert and former President of the American Avalanche Association.
The total number of people involved in avalanches is of course much higher. For example, last winter in Austria, avalanches tragically killed 25 people, but the number could have been much higher as there were 150 reported avalanche accidents. But even surviving an avalanche can leave a scar. For some, avalanches are a traumatic experience resulting in painful and sometimes life-long physical injuries.
“Many skiers and riders may not consider themselves to be daring off-piste riders, but the lure of powder can seduce anyone to leave a marked piste or slip under a rope. Riders need to know that by leaving the marked piste, that in the width of a ski, they are going from a safe and managed piste to potentially unmanaged and dangerous terrain”, says Dale Atkins.
It's speculated that the weather phenomenon El Niño will bring large amount of snow. With snow in the mountains follows the risk of avalanches. This raises the importance of respecting the avalanche signs and warnings, but also to use available equipment that increases the chance of survival in an avalanche accident. While the growing popular airbag can help the person stay on top of an avalanche, the transceiver and RECCO reflector make the buried person searchable to their friends and professional rescuers.
“From the recent meeting of the International Commission for Alpine Rescue, ICAR, we heard some encouraging information. An international study showed avalanche airbags do save lives and are good to use, but too often, about 20% of the time, people fail to deploy their bag and end up dying. Also, from Slovakia where a big test of avalanche transceivers was made, they concluded that today’s transceivers are better than transceivers from just four years ago. And both studies shared a common message that users need to practice with their equipment,” says Dale Atkins.
Urtunately the statistics show that many people caught in avalanches are lacking both transceiver and RECCO reflector and are therefore not searchable. When people are not searchable they lose the opportunity to be found faster.
“Surviving an avalanche is really about luck. Transceivers, airbags and RECCO reflectors, don’t guarantee survival, but this gear puts you in to a position to be lucky. The beauty of RECCO reflectors is that they come integrated into gear and that they’re passive. They can’t be forgotten and you don’t have to do anything to use it. Being searchable is critical to surviving an avalanche burial. Your transceiver makes you searchable to your friends, and the RECCO reflector makes you searchable to the professionals, and if you’re buried you want to be searchable to everyone”, says Dale Atkins.
RECCO is official safety partner of the Red Bull X-Alps 2015
The Red Bull X-Alps is considered the world’s toughest adventure race. We are proud to be the safety partner and have the opportunity to launch the new RECCO Helicopter Search and Rescue detector – SAR 1.
This summer RECCO will present a new search and rescue technology at Outdoor, July 15-18, Europe’s biggest summer tradeshow in Friedrichshafen, Germany. In advance, RECCO is the official safety partner with the Red Bull X-Alps event, where RECCO’s new helicopter-based technology will be available exclusively for the event in case one of the athletes goes missing.
This is the seventh edition of the Red Bull X-Alps since the first race in 2003. In this edition athletes will race over 1,000 km from Salzburg to Monaco by foot and paraglider, crossing six countries and Europe's highest mountains. Each of the 32 teams consists of one athlete and a supporter.
“Red Bull X-Alps is one of the toughest adventure races in the world where athletes have to act in a very responsible way. They take difficult decisions all the time – whether to fly or not and choosing routes through difficult alpine areas. The challenge of security is to have an eye on athletes in each moment, to consider how they deal with risk and to intervene if necessary,” says Jürgen Wietrzyk, Safety Director Red Bull X-Alps.
As part of the safety plan during the race the RECCO SAR 1 will be present in case any athletes get lost or have an accident. All athletes are therefore equipped with RECCO reflectors in their helmets and backpacks to make them searchable regardless of the type of terrain.
“RECCO is a good back up system,” says Jürgen Wietrzyk.
The new RECCO SAR 1 is based on RECCO’s renowned avalanche rescue system that can quickly locate a buried person. Used from a helicopter, the SAR 1 detector has a substantially greater range and can be used year-round for lost people equipped with RECCO reflectors.
The Red Bull X-Alps prologue was held July 2 in Salzburg. The main race starts July 5 and finishes in Monaco. The 2013 race resulted in a new record of 6 days, 23 hours and 40 minutes by winner Christian `Chrigel´ Maurer. The 2015 route is expected to take longer due to a more demanding course.
RECCO is a proud sponsor of INTO THE MIND by Sherpas Cinema
With stunning cinematography and groundbreaking storytelling techniques, the Sherpas blur the lines between dream state and reality, and immerse you into the mind of a common skier as he attempts to climb and ski the ultimate mountain.
For more information about the film and to view the teaser, go to the official website and social media sites:
RECCO joins forces with Ortovox
Starting fall 2013, RECCO reflectors will be built into all ORTOVOX avalanche transceivers. This collaboration will allow both companies to continue to improve the existing safety standards and reduce the search times of professional rescuers when searching for avalanche victims.
For more information:
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RECCO is a proud sponsor of Jeremy Jones' Further
RECCO is a proud sponsor of Jeremy Jones' Further, the second installment in the Jeremy Jones trilogy Deeper, Further, Higher. View the teaser to get a glimpse of how much further he and his teammates can go... full film to be released Fall 2012.
RECCO is a proud sponsor of "THIS IS MY WINTER"
RECCO is a proud sponsor of the latest film from TimeLine films featuring Xavier de Le Rue and Mathieu Crepel. Check out the helmet cam teaser for THIS IS MY WINTER. Enjoy!
RECCO is the official Safety Partner of the Nike 6.0 2011 International Freeski Film Festival
We are proud to be the safety partner of the IF3 Film Festival in Montreal and Annecy.
Visit the official IF3 website for details about the festival and a list of the winners!
Go into our Facebook videos page to see our film contribution, Education is Everything.
RECCO to sponsor One For The Road
SNOW Magazine's SNOW BIZ Event - NYC
RECCO was at SNOW Magazine's 1st Annual SNOW BIZ Event in NYC this summer. Check out the video to see SNOW Magazine's founder Barbara Sanders take you on a tour of the event, and hear commentary from some of the industry's leaders, a top athlete, and a survivor.
SNOW BIZ event by Plum tv
Read more about the brands and products that were at the event on Lyra Mag.
Colorado Ski Patroller of the Year Award
Loveland Ski Area's Joey Riefenberg Wins CSCUSA 2010-2011 Patroller of the Year!
Go to Loveland Ski Area's Facebook page to read the full article.
All.I.Can. - Rocky Mountain Sherpas
We support the Rocky Mountain Sherpas! Watch the teaser for the amazing new film production of All.I.Can. The film strives to unite global mountain culture and inspire us to do all we can for the environment. Visit the Sherpas website to get more info on all of their projects and what they are all about!
We would like to congratulate Mark Walton of the UK for his winning contribution to our avalanche awareness and RECCO System contest that was on our website during the month of February.
Read RECCO Update - and get the latest news from RECCO®
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RECCO® featured on Outside Television.
RECCO® featured in a gear segment on a US National Television Morning Show.
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King of the Hill sponsored by RECCO®
Last spring for the first time in more than 10 years the legendary King of the Hill was resurrected back where big mountain riding all started — Valdez Alaska — and RECCO® made it happen. Top pro riders including Olympians, X Game champs, and veterans were invited and everybody showed up to throw down and go big. Travis Rice claimed the sword for the men and Vera Janssen for the women. For 2011, this ultimate test to find the world freeriding champion starts on April 1 — back in Valdez — and again, RECCO® is making it happen.
Watch the Tailgate 2010 teaser
To find out more about the 2010 challenge and what will happen in 2011, check out:
Of course we’re excited to be a part of last spring’s King of the Hill, but see what the industry had to say about it:
RECCO's Dale Atkins new president of the AAA.
Elected by the professionals.
The nearly 500 professional members of the American Avalanche Association recently elected RECCO’s own Dale Atkins as their next president. He will assume the role beginning in January 2011.The American Avalanche Association represents the professional interests of the American avalanche community.
Atkins is well known both nationally and internationally for his experience and work in avalanche forecasting, accidents causes, and avalanche rescue. He worked for nearly 20 years as an avalanche forecaster and researcher with the venerable Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Dale has published books and produced movies on avalanche accidents and rescue, and published internationally articles on avalanche safety and rescue. A former 20-year ski patroller and still active in mountain rescue, Dale is the Vice President of the Avalanche Rescue Commission for the International Commission for Alpine Rescue. Currently, Dale works for RECCO AB as their education and training manager for North America.
For more information please visit www.americanavalancheassociation.org