Whether you are ski touring or freeriding, you must be able to assess the risk of avalanches whenever you venture into unsafe areas of the mountains. Careful planning, appropriate behaviour in the field and the experience to identify potential danger zones are the basis for safety in the mountains. In order to pass on this knowledge Ortovox has been offering avalanche safety training courses for beginners and advanced hikers and freeriders since 2008, in cooperation with around 30 schools. The SAFETY ACADEMY is the world's largest avalanche safety training initiative. Train to reduce your risk! It's the only way to avoid being in danger.

Objectives of the winter course: Safety and risk management during ski tours and freeride trips in unsafe mountain areas.


First point to know: there are different types of snow, more than 5000 snowflakes, hence the complexity of snow. However, you don't need to know it inside out to be able to enjoy the powder safely.

Firstly, it is important to check the avalanche bulletin carefully to see which outings are possible the next day. Then, it can be useful to study the topographic map to locate potential danger areas.

How can an unstable layer of snow form in the snowpack?

The snowpack is a bit like a millefeuille, sometimes even more fragile! It is made up of many different layers that accumulate throughout the winter according to the different climatic episodes. The structure of the snowpack and the cohesion between the layers is always the decisive factor in avalanche risk.

Discover the 5 avalanche risk levels

The Avalanche Bulletin is the basis for preparing for any trip! It describes in detail the condition of the snowpack, gives information on dangerous areas and provides information on the weather.

Find out which hike is safe - the graphic reduction method

This method allows you to estimate the avalanche risk on a given route while you are still at home. It takes into account factors such as: avalanche risk level, inclination, slope conditions and exposure. Having said that, the graphical reduction method obviously does not allow you to observe the snowpack... once you are in the field, you always have to re-judge the signs of danger in order to re-evaluate the situation and decide whether or not to go on the hike.

Interpreting the danger signs on the ground.

The terrain influences the triggering of avalanches because it plays a decisive role in the direction and strength of the wind and thus in the accumulation of snow. A little experience and a lot of observation are necessary to choose the right route.


How to search correctly

In the event of an accident, every detail counts to maximize the chances of survival. Who coordinates the rescue? How do you direct the search? These are all questions that can waste precious time.

Finding exactly the right place

A simple system and a little experience are important to quickly find the right spot when probing. A few simple tips will make your job easier.

The fastest way to get a victim out

Of the three steps: locating with the avalanche transceiver, probing, and digging out the victim, the last one usually takes the longest. For an average burial depth of 50cm, that's easily 1.5m³ of snow that needs to be cleared.

Useful emergency procedure to have in your pocket

Once an avalanche has occurred, the adrenaline rush and the stress level are such that it is usually difficult to control oneself and it is very difficult to think on your feet. What phone number should I call? How do I give the right directions to the helicopter? What are the official distress signals? In case the worst happens, we've put together this information in a ready-to-print memo that you can slip into your pocket!
Learn more about our avalanche backpacks: see the Safety Academy Guide Book


AVABAG avalanche backpacks, avalanche transceivers, shovels and probes ORTOVOX are always there when you need them in an emergency. They impress with their reliability and ease of use. Bivouac bags and first aid kits are the perfect addition to your avalanche rescue equipment.