Hazards in the mountains, rockfalls, avalanches, serac, snow cornices, thunderstorms, earthquakes, precautions and recommendations to reduce the risk.

There are two types of dangers in the mountains. The first type of danger is associated with improper use of equipment, improperly chosen technique or insufficient preparation and selection of the wrong route. These are subjective dangers. The second type is the objective hazard associated with environmental factors in the mountains. Such risks are often quite difficult to predict and control.. 

Hazards in the mountains, rockfalls, avalanches, serac, snow cornices, thunderstorms, earthquakes, precautions and recommendations to reduce the risk.

To significantly reduce the risk of objective danger in the mountains, it is necessary to understand and calculate the possible risks associated with the mountain element and the influence of natural factors when climbing and choosing a route.

Rockfalls in the mountains.

Rockfalls in the mountains can occur both on vertical walls and on steep slopes. The following rock factors and conditions can lead to rock falling in the mountains:

Temperature difference. Due to melting snow, water enters the cracks, during the day the temperature drops, water freezes and the cracks widen, which can lead to falling stones. After the sun heats the slope, it is possible to melt and again, as a result, falling stones.
Stones lying on the snow, which can melt under the influence of the sun.
Volatile stones or groups of stones.
Places of constant movement and falling of stones and runoff of water (lobbies, gutters).
Wild animals dropping stones.

Recommendations for reducing the risk of falling under a rockfall in the mountains:

When planning a route, preliminary observation and the selection of the correct time for the passage of a particular section are necessary. As a rule, early morning is the most suitable time to quickly overcome the most dangerous part of the route.
Movement on the mountain slopes to carry out vkaskah. Especially on ruined rocks, steep slopes, moraines, scree backstage.
On grassy and snowy slopes, falling stones may not be heard.

Avalanches in the mountains.

At different times of the year, avalanches in the mountains become especially dangerous for climbers.


Snow often fills glacial cracks. It is necessary to select the correct technique and trajectory of movement when moving around a closed glacier.


Due to possible glacier movement, seracs can fall at any moment. Regardless of the time of day. Always try to avoid moving under serac. If you need to pass this part of the glacier, try to observe the following recommendations:

View the potential line of fall and rollback of Serac.
Assess possible shelter paths that can save you from falling ice.
Drive fast without stopping.
Do not get an overnight stay in the icefall or in the area of ​​potential fall of serac.

Snow cornices.

Like seraks, cornices can collapse at any time of the day (including under the weight of a person). In order to reduce the risk, it is necessary:

Avoid movement under the potential drop line.
Move along the ridge, taking into account the potential line of the cornice.
If one of the participants of the ligament falls from the ridge along with the cornice, the second must jump to the other side to counterbalance and hold the stall.

Snow cornice structure.

Hazards in the mountains, rockfalls, avalanches, serac, snow cornices, thunderstorms, earthquakes, precautions and recommendations to reduce the risk.

Weather in the mountains.

Bad weather in the mountains can have serious consequences. Thunderstorms, snowfalls, lack of visibility and much more are what a climber may face.

Thunderstorm in the mountains.

Signs of approaching thunderstorm in the mountains:

Accumulation of rain clouds turning into powerful thunderstorm vertical “towers”.
Depressing stuffiness, lack of wind.

Thunderstorms in the mountains more often occur in the afternoon. In each mountainous region there are peaks (ridges, gendarmes), namely they are most often struck by lightning. Care must be taken to avoid them during bad weather. The main danger of a thunderstorm is a lightning strike..

Signs of an electric discharge, even in a cloudless sky, effects associated with an increase in electric field strength: hair stirring (raising), buzzing of metal objects, discharges at the sharp ends of equipment.

Precautions during a thunderstorm in the mountains.

Leave from an open place. If you are on a peak or mountain range, you must immediately go down as much as possible down the slope..
Turn off mobile phones, walkie-talkies and other electrical appliances.
Choose a place to wait for a thunderstorm. A thunderstorm rarely lasts more than an hour, but even during this time you can thoroughly get wet and freeze. Therefore, it is advisable to find a rocky canopy, cave or pull the tent (put a tent) in a dry hollow or overhang. To sit no closer than one meter to any of the walls.
When choosing a place for refuge, it is extremely important to avoid the proximity to any moisture. When settling in a hollow, avoid places of storm water runoff.
Set aside all metal objects to a distance of 50 meters (trekking poles, ice axes, rock equipment). Desirable, uphill, away from the shelter.
Do not get near waterfalls, streams or any water bodies..
For greater safety, the following position should be adopted. Squat, lower your head, grab your legs with your hands. Place a rug folded several times underneath your feet or a dry rope.

Waiting for a thunderstorm in the mountains, safe areas.

Hazards in the mountains, rockfalls, avalanches, serac, snow cornices, thunderstorms, earthquakes, precautions and recommendations to reduce the risk.

Earthquakes in the mountains.

Tremors and vibrations of the Earth’s surface caused by natural causes (mainly tectonic processes) are called earthquakes. Earthquakes occur constantly, but most of them are so insignificant that they go unnoticed.

The cause of the earthquake is the rapid displacement of the lithosphere (lithospheric plates). Seismic waves generated by earthquakes propagate in all directions from the source, like sound waves. The point at which the rock movement begins is called the focus, the focus, and the point on the earth’s surface above the focus is the epicenter of the earthquake.

As the shock waves move away from the source, their intensity decreases. Earthquakes in the mountains can cause landslides, mudflows and landslides. During earthquakes, talus and snow slopes, structures and rocky corridors must be avoided.

Mountain rivers.

The velocity of the mountain rivers ranges from 2 to 15 m / s. A water stream can easily carry away a person. Typically, the speed and depth of the river change throughout the day. In the morning the flow is weaker, and the depth is less, in the evening they increase. The temperature of mountain rivers is usually low, which also needs to be taken into account when crossing their channel.

Based on materials from the book “School of mountaineering, a training manual”.

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