The secret to surviving an avalanche is not being in one at all: Who better to tell us how than the experts at the International Snow Training Academy?

According to the experts at the International Snow Training Academy ISTA, avalanches are not a twist of fate. Practitioners change, habits change – risks don’t, which is why we need a new approach to staying safe in the backcountry.

Dominique Perret, CEO and founder of ISTA – the International Snow Training Academy – has dedicated the last 18 months pouring a career’s worth of experience into the first internationally recognised avalanche training programme.

Over 40 experts spanning 9 countries and 3 continents in the areas of education, sport psychology, transfer of knowledge, nutrition, meteorology, snow science, risk management and rescue methods, as well as mountain guides and ski instructors, were involved in the development of this project intended to prevent risks in the mountains and to increase the freedom, enjoyment and safety of backcountry enthusiasts.

Dominique Perret believes it’s vital that backcountry enthusiasts begin to focus on prevention rather than placing the emphasis on action in the event of an avalanche:

“Despite the increasing number of backcountry recreationists, training opportunities, both in Switzerland and abroad, vary from country to country and mainly cater to advanced amateurs and professionals. ISTA’s training program is intended for the general public and is delivered by affiliated instructors and guides. The goal is not to provide extra equipment, but rather the knowledge and skills required to assess and prevent risk.”

The basics

1. Get trained

Even with all the rescue gear in the world, without proper training you are unlikely to be able to use it to save your life, and the best way to get it is from experts who have condensed the vital knowledge and information you need. It’s not about going back to school and spending countless hours studying – with just a couple of days of practical and theoretical training, you will be able to perform the following vital skills:

Implement the risk assessment process
Identify favourable and unfavourable terrain
Understand rescue techniques
Use rescue gear
Implement the avalanche rescue procedure
Use the HFSA© system to assess mental, medical and energy-related risk factors

Analysing the snowpack CREDIT ISTA dot com

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