Risk management in Off- Piste Skiing- How we teach it – Lecture

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This lecture will show how risk in off-piste skiing can be managed and how risk management can be implemented in training of guides or instructors in a modern way. The basis of our training in risk management is the leaflet “Achtung Lawine”, a joint publication by the the German skiing and alpine associations. Based on this information we will show the interaction of different methods by which our risk can be reduced. We can use various methods to estimate and reduce our risk of burial (eg 3×3, snowcard, stop or go, avalanche patterns, analysis of the snowpack)

Both probabilistic and analytical methods have their justification, but alone they can not capture the complexity of a decision in the field. Each one of these methods has its strength and weaknesses. In order to reduce risk while riding avalanche terrain and benefit from the advantages of different methods systematically, the so-called “avalanche mantra” was developed.

The avalanche mantra considers probabilistic risk assessment, information from snow pack analysis and the avalanche report, as well as the consequences of possible accident events and precautionary measures. It offers the possibility, depending on background and level of experience of the skier, to evaluate the different aspects individually and thus to compensate for weaknesses of the individual methods.

Before each decision a prayer-wheel like procedure is performed- hence the name avalanche mantra. From the planning at home to the individual slope consideration, the above points are thought through and discussed in the training over and over again like in an infinite loop and thus always integrated all in the decision.

In addition to the teaching of avalanche knowledge, the training of skiing skills and the teaching of riding tactics is of particular importance, since skills, safety and tactics influence one another considerably. They are therefore crucial in terms of safety as well as technical training aspects.

In this lecture, after presenting the avalanche mantra and its didactic implementation in training, it will be shown how methodological principles can affect safety. It will be explained how safety can be positively influenced from the point of view of a freeride guide, instructor or trainer through a methodically meaningful approach and training.

Lecturer: Dr. med. univ. Lukas Riess, certified ski instructor, lives in Fischen im Allgäu and since 2015 has been a member of the federal teaching teams skiing and freeriding of the German Alpine Club. Study of Human Medicine at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology Trondheim, Norway and Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria. Research activity in the field of avalanche medicine at the EURAC Bolzano Italy.

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