/ Avalanche kit for the alps this summer?
Some friends and I are going to the alps at the end of the month and were wondering if its common practice to take avalanche transceivers, probes and shovels for your first alpine trip?
Looking at the BMC's kit list for alpine mountaineering and generally in books it doesn't seem to suggest its necessary to take avalanche kits but is it better to be on the safe side... but then there is the weight... Currently we're looking at just doing the normal route up mt blanc and some beginner alpine routes around Arolla.
Thanks in advance
TBH I only ever carry avalanche kit for skiing/boarding and for MR.
Unless there is fresh snow, most of the snow will be compacted by the thaw and freeze cycle, making summer avalanches very solid and having a lot less air in it to breath.
My guide claimed that trying to shovel somebody out would only result in a broken shovel.
The reason about not being able to dig your mate out is BS. If there was a reasonable risk then people would carry beacons and not rope up when exposed to dangerous slopes, unless the risk of falling down a cravasse is higher of course.
A large part of alpinism is working out a strategy that reduces the risks of the route to acceptable levels. In fact this is partly what makes it so interesting.
In winter you will normally either be skiing, or skiing into or away from routes. When skiing you inevitably ski on slopes more probe to avalanche than the slopes you encounter in summer. You should not be skiing terrain traps (cliffs, wide cravasses etc.) so one of the biggest risks is burial.
In summer, like you say, avalanches are more likely to be wet snow or triggered by serac fall (like the unfortunate one recently). The afternoon ones are relative easy to avoid (negating the need for equipment).
In my opinion burial is quite low down the list of likely outcomes in summer, and if it does occur - the pair of you are more likely to be in it together, or off a cliff, or down a crevasse. That is why I don't bother with avi kit in summer. If you did end-up traversing a dodgy slope with fresh snow and the risk of avi was percieved to be greater than crevasse fall then you probably would take off the rope and try and make your way one by one down safe spots. Best avoiding those days though...
There are of course the upredictable avalanches that occaisionally occur in summer, like the serac fall triggered one on MB, but these are normally quite severe and I doubt having transievers would be much use.
You might have felt it, but does that mean it was true? Am I misunderstanding you, or did you have one transciever for the entire group?
Does anyone have any good links to information on when seracs are most likely to fall?
It is a fairly commonly held conception that they are more stable at night and more likley to fall during the day. I am sure I have read somewhere that this is not true and seracs are basically completely unpredictable. I would have thought that the main body of a serac is actually unlikely to change temperature very much during the day but that is only a hunch.
I've never seen a serac fall but have seen plenty of debris in the mornings...
Elsewhere on the site
With four photos in this week's top ten, and a UKC gallery of stunning images we thought it was time we had a chat with... Read more
Tonight's Friday Night Video features the Norwegian town of Rjukan, once believed to be the home of the world's tallest... Read more
Perhaps the perfect Xmas gift for the climber in your life... Wild Country's Crack School has two of the worlds best crack... Read more
F ounded in 1993, Mountain Hardwear are a pretty young mountaineering clothing and equipment manufacturer but are also one of... Read more
Rock shoes stink – let’s face it. Boot Bananas are the perfect way to fight the funk and keep them fresh. They help... Read more