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Avalanches In Himalaya

Discussion in 'Trekking and Mountaineering' started by violet, Feb 19, 2016.

  1. violet

    violet New Member

    How often do you hear about avalanches when climbers are on the Himalayan mountains? Is it safe enough to go mountain climbing without worrying about an life threatening avalanche?
  2. There have been quite a few incidents of avalanches in the Himalayas, mostly in upper himalayas. There was one in 2012, and another much bigger one in 2014 in Nepal. The 2014 incident was known as the worst trekking disaster ever. This was caused by special circumstances due to the cyclone Hudhud. Avalanches are difficult to predict but there are some ways of doing it using the liquid water content in the snow or if the temperatures are unusually high. They can also be caused by earthquakes. Mountain trekking in the Himalayas has many challenges and risks and it is up to you if you want to undertake that risk
    Chahal likes this.
  3. rz3300

    rz3300 Member

    I think that this is really one of those things that you never really think about in your travel plans until you hear about how devastating it can be for the community there. With all of these beautiful places it is easy to forget that they can often do some damage and they are not all good news all of the time.
  4. OursIsTheFury

    OursIsTheFury Member

    To be honest, when talking about climbing Mount Everest, people actually use dead bodies of other climbers as points on the map, because of the fact that lots of people really die in these treks, and it is really advised that you are in top condition before you even consider going for the journey to the top. It's an insane statistic, but lots of people meet their end going to the top of the mountain, and it's really not as much fun as you think. It's an incredible view at the top, but the steps are paved with dead adventurers.
  5. Danny Luke

    Danny Luke Member

    Based on the latest statistics, about 150 people are killed each year in an avalanche. This is a global statistic, not just for India. The thing with avalanches is that they can strike almost anywhere and without any warning. Statistics also show that majority of these deadly avalanches were triggered by people. With that said, before you climb a mountain thick with snow, you should be aware of the things you should or shouldn't do in order to NOT trigger an avalanche.
  6. pavilion

    pavilion New Member

    You can ask locals at hill stations about recent avalanche activities and pay heed to any words of warning. While avalanches may be difficult to predict and can happen suddenly, there are some tips to improve the chances of avoiding or surviving one, like wearing a locator beacon while you are hiking. Asphyxiation is the most common cause of death in an avalanche according to statistics regarding avalanche incidentes, thus carry along a shovel will be useful if you end up
    buried in a thick layer of snow.
  7. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    The Himalayas are well-known for the occurrence of landslides and avalanches, especially during the winter season. That's the reason why some routes or passes are closed during the months of November to February. In a way, this can help protect the trekkers from sudden landslides and avalanches due to bad weather. Particularly, it's the Western Himalayas that are more prone to avalanches namely:
    • Jammu and Kashmir - Higher altitude areas of Kashmir and Gurez Valleys, Kargil and Ladakh.
    • Himachal Pradesh - Areas of Chamba, Kullu, Spiti and Kinnaur.
    • West of Uttar Pradesh - Higher parts of Tehri Garhwal and Chamoli.
    We can further divide these avalanche prone areas into:
    • The Red Zone - This is the most dangerous zone for avalanches. This area has the most number of avalanches and have an impact pressure of 3 tonnes per square metre.
    • The Blue Zone - The avalanche force is lesser here at less than 3 tonnes per square metre. Residents can live in the area but have to vacate immediately upon warning.
    • The Yellow Zone - Avalanches do happen in this zone but rarely.
    Avalanches can occur because of two reasons:
    • Prime Factors - This can be further divided to Topographic and Vegetation factors. Topographic factors include the shape, inclination, orientation and location of the slope. Vegetation factors include vegetation cover, height of trees and thickness of vegetation.
    • Exciting Factors - This can be divided into Weather and Other factors. Weather may include snowfall, snow thickness, wind velocity and temperature. Other factors like vibrations due to earthquakes or activities can also aggravate an avalanche.
    Now, let's look at the frequency of the occurrence of avalanches in India:
    • February 2016 - In Siachen in Kashmir, about 10 soldiers were buried in an avalanche.
    • February 2005 - In Kashmir, an avalanche caused chaos and deaths in several villages in the region. About 278 people were found dead.
    • September 1995 - In Himachal Pradesh, an avalanche came down and later melted into flood.
    • March 1991 - In Himachal Pradesh, Tinku avalanche happens every year. But during that year, the roads were blocked for over 40 days because of the avalanche.
    • March 1988 - In Kashmir, an avalanche killed about 70 people and disrupted communication lines.
    • March 1979 - In Lahaul, an avalanche killed 237 people and disrupted communication lines.
    As you can see, many of these occurrences happened unexpectedly and not really to trekkers. Yes, there were instances of avalanches that occurred but it's mostly in Nepal, as per researching on the topic. We cannot dismiss the risk of avalanches still despite this. It's a good thing that weather reports are accurate and these roads and passes are blocked whenever there are harsh snowfalls or temperatures.

    As I've said, there's still that risk. However, to minimise the risk, always abide by the rules set by the authorities. Check the weather report before going through with your trek. If you can, hire a guide with you as they know the trails better. Avoid the winter season as much as you can and also the post-winter season when the snow and ice are melting still. The monsoon season isn't a good time to trek as well as avalanches can also happen in this time.

    I hope this helps!

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