ICAR-AVA Avalanche Rescue Commission

01.11.2011

One of the main goals and tasks of the ICAR Avalanche Rescue Commission is to provide a platform to present avalanche search and rescue systems. The exchange of experience and the discussions at our meetings help to gain new insights and to transfer the knowledge to the practice.

A main task of the ICAR Avalanche Rescue Commission is to issue recommendations on safety measures to minimise avalanche accidents. Securing the equipment compatibility of avalanche search devices is another focus. Furthermore, the ICAR Avalanche Rescue Commission played a dominant role in the unification of the European avalanche danger scale. Currently, these efforts are extended to harmonise the European avalanche danger scale with the North American systems.

The ICAR Avalanche Rescue Commission also provides information on avalanche accidents. The average number of annual avalanche accident fatalities in the Alps is 106. This is calculated from a 20-year record of fatal avalanche accidents in the alpine countries. Adding the number of the fatal accidents in North America, the average is 138. Most victims released the avalanche themselves during skiing or hiking in backcountry terrain. However, a significant number of people died while they were skiing or snowboarding off-piste or snowmobiling in the backcountry. For the latter groups, the annual numbers of fatal accidents are slightly increasing.