Snow Safety

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With increasing information about avalanche risk many ski schools and resorts are running introductory training in the use of avalanche transceivers. We reguarly cover training opportunities in France on our main ski news pages.


A Nic-Impex park with six transmitters. Unlike some of the other parks this is not self-service. You need to ask a Piste Patroller for assistance to use the installation. The park is located on the Plateau de Cuvy in the Grand Mont sector. Conveniently en-route for the normal route of the Grand Mont if you are on touring skis.

Val d'Allos

As part of the 'Winter Respect'' programme the Val d'Allos runs avalanche transceiver training in conjuction with the piste patrol

Les Deux Alpes

Les Deux Alpes runs its FreeRespect sessions throughout the winter and early spring.

le Collet d'Allevard

Located at the Super Collet near the Lac II drag lift. It uses an Ortovox EasySearcher system with up to 6 victims. The park is over 10 hectares at the Lac II drag lift. There are organized avalanche rescue training sessions run by expert piste patroller, Alain Klucar. These last 3 hours and cost 10 euros and are suitable for anyone from beginners to professionals. Contact Alain on 06 72 10 27 38 In 2005 the Collet d'Allevard organzied an international Beacon Search competition for snow professionals.


Chamrousse is equipped with a self-service Ortovox avalanche basin located at the Infernet drag near the Croix de Chamrousse. The park has 10 transmitters and the park measures 5 hectares on a gentle slope. Probe training has also been installed in order to demonstrate the difference between a victim, a buried rock and the ground. The piste patrol will get you started and can give tips but the resort also offers half and whole day training sessions. Tel: 04 76 59 09 12

La Grave

La Grave is equipped with a Mammut ATC beacon park with 9 remote controlled beacons located at the intermediate cable car station at 2400 meters. They have a 3 beacon mobile system for use in other sectors. Free training on Tuesdays and Thursdays by the piste patroller for both beginners and experts. Tel: 04 76 79 94 65


Pelvoux has installed a five beacon mobile Ortovox system. It is located at the base of the runs and covers 1.2 hectares. Acces is free. Tel: 04 92 23 31 48

Serre Chevalier

Serre-Chevalier is installing a fixed Ortovox 5 beacon basin for the 2006/7 season. It is located in the Monestier-les-Bains domain at the bottom of the Bachas chair lift at 2200 meters. The site covers 2.5 hectares and training is provided for free. Tel: 04 92 25 55 03

Trois Vallees - L' Avalanch' Camp

There are two sites. One at Courchevel 1850 at the bottom of the Suisses chair and another at Meribel Mottaret at the bottom of the Plan des Mains chair. The two sites cover 2.5 hectares on a gentle slope and both use an ATC Mammut system which can simulate up to 4 victims. Access is free, just bring your probe and beacon. A member of the piste patrol is available on certain days to help train and lend material. There are demonstrations of search and rescue and emergency first aid on two days per week. Take a tour by and talk to the piste patrol for more details or telephone: 04 79 08 99 19

More info:

La Plagne

The piste patrol at la Plagne has been running avalanche beacon training sessions since the 2000/2001 season on the Montchavin sector. The resort has a 5 transmitter Ortovox mobile training system. More info on: 04 79 09 67 53

les Arcs

During the season the piste patrol are offering transciever and off-piste training sessions every week on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at the top of the Transarc lift (linking Arc1800 with Arc 2000) at 14h30. A fixed beacon basin has been installed between the Transarc and the Crêche restaurant covering a 10 hectare area. Tel 04 79 04 24 00


As part of its SPOT (Skiing Powder of Tignes) initiative Tignes has installed a self service Ortovox avalanche park. You can search for up to 4 victims out of 10 transmitters over an area of 10 hectares on a slope. The basin is located in the Palet sector below the Tichot chair. A member of the piste patrol is on hand in the freeride hut between 9 and 17h to give help and lend material (beacons, probes). There is also a probing practise area. Tel: 04 79 06 32 00

Val d'Isère

Avalanche expert Henry Schniewind holds avalanche awareness tutorials in Dick's Tea Bar and beacon search sessions on the slopes every week.


Ortovox system with 5 victims located on the Arrondaz plateau at 2200 meters at the intermediate station of the gondola lift. Access to the 10 hectare site is free after contacting the piste patrol in their hut.


Backcountry Access have set up a beacon basin at les Grands Montets. In previous seasons this was reserved for professionals but from 2006 is open to the public. The basin is situated near to the Lognan cable car station. To use the area go to the piste patrol hut, you need to be at least 3 people and a member of the piste patrol will give you a free training session. The park covers 5 hectares on a gentle slope. Tel: 04 50 54 00 71

Domaine du Tourmalet

Located in the La Mongie sector at the bottom of the Pain du Sucre (Sugarloaf) drag lift. The park covers 2.5 hectares on a gentle slope and exercises are supervised by a member of the piste patrol. Tel: 05 62 91 94 15

Mountain Tracks

Mountain Tracks organizes avalanche awareness training in the French Alps during the winter. There are two levels of courses. A 2½ day introduction for those new to travel in avalanche terrain or a great review for anyone who has some experience or prior training but feels they need a skills "tune-up." The five day course has the same content as the foundation but includes off piste skiing so you can work on your technique and relate what you have learned to the environment you are skiing in.

Journals and Websites

Selected articles from the Avalanche Review


The ABC of Avalanche Safety

The ABC of Avalanche Safety

Most of the English speaking literature comes from the North America. Ed Lachapelle worked at the Swiss Avalanche Research institute just after the Second World War and is one of the founders and foremost experts in American Avalanche Research, his book, The ABC of Avalanche Safety is a classic.

The Avalanche Handbook

The Avalanche Handbook

Like his countryman Lachapelle, Peter Schaerer cut his teeth in the world of Swiss avalanche research. He has co authored The Avalanche Handbook with David McClung. This book goes further into avalanche theory and discusses weather systems and snow structures and then progresses to more advanced topics of snowpack analysis, avalanche prediction and the techniques of search and rescue. There is an excellent section on the various avalanche control methods which would be an excellent basis for aspiring piste patrollers. A useful book for anyone who will be going on a course. The book is aimed at anyone going into the backcountry.

Off Piste

Off Piste, Wayne Watson

Off Piste is written by Val d'Isere guide Wayne Watson and is naturally oriented towards the possibilities around that resort.

White Death

White Death McKay Jenkins

On a different note, White Death is McKay Jenkins' in depth study of a climbing accident that reverberated across America. Through the story of a group of young climbers hit by a massive avalanche on the North face of Mount Cleveland in the Northern Rockies he tells the story of avalanches from Hanibal's crossing of the Alps to the present day.

Avalanche Safety for Skiers, Climbers and Snowboarders

Avalanche Safety for Skiers, Climbers and Snowboarders

Tony Daffern's book, Avalanche Safety for Skiers, Climbers and Snowboarders includes the latest terminology, snow stability evaluation techniques; plus route finding, rescue, first aid, hazard identification and avoidance. Aimed specifically at Climbers, Snowboarders and Skiers.

Powder Guide

Powder Guide

The English translation of the German book that has sold 100,000 copies Powder Guide is aimed squarely at practising freeriders whether they are on snowboards or skis. The book contains an extensive and authorized English translation of Werner Munters 3x3 and Reduction methods for reducing avalanche risk exposure.

The book is oriented towards North-American audiences.

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain

Utah Avalanche Expert Bruce Tremper has clearly spent a great deal of time on and thinking about snow and the dangers it presents. This book fits somewhere in between Powder Guide and The Avalanche Handbook. There are explainations of the forces and conditions that lead to avalanches and how they can be avoided.

Snow: Understanding, Testing and Interpreting Snow Conditions to Make Better Avalanche Predictions

If you want a concise introduction to snow, snow crystals, how the snowpack evolves with time and changing weather conditions this is it. Robert Bolognesi is a Swiss based snow scientist who completed his doctorate at the Swiss Avalanche Research institute and now runs a firm consulting on avalanche risk.

Avalanche!: Understand and Reduce the Risks from Avalanches

Robert Bolognesi explains the factors behind avalanches and avalanche accidents in this concise guide. It includes his NivoTest risk reduction technique which is taught to mountain leaders in France.

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