The ABCs of Avalanche Safety: Review

This is the first book of its kind that I’ve bought and read. Most people would agree that when it comes to avalanche safety, a book alone is no substitute for regular practice with avalanche equipment, guidance from an expert or real life experience of travelling in the backcountry. I was looking for an introduction, some background knowledge, things to think about. The ABCs of Avalanche Safety covers exactly what the title suggests – it’s a good place to start.

The book is pocket size, say 4″ by 6″, with around 130 pages. The content is split up into 4 chapters – Snow and Avalanche Basics, Practical Guidelines for Stability Evaluation, Safety Rules and Rescue and Case Histories – each filled with concise information.

Concise should not be confused with simple, however. The book is written with technical and scientific language, especially so with the descriptions of how the snow cover forms. Photos and diagrams are used in places to suppliment the text, and to good effect.

I think the size of the book itself is a plus. Being handy, with a small number of direct chapters, makes reading encouraging; it’s easy to dip into any of the sections for a quick read. Its size also makes it portable; weighing you down isn’t a concern, so it’s easy to take away.

In contrast, I occassionally found the vocabulary a little slow to digest. At this stage, some of the snow science seemed quite heavy, given my lack or practical experience.

So what about the scope of information? This is where the book really scores. Starting with an explanation of avalanche terms, it then provides foundation knowledge about different types of snow and how avalanches form. There are guidelines for assessing the risk, how to avoid avalanches and how to perform a search. It’s a good mix of theory and practical advice. Simply put, it’s the ABCs of avalanche safety.

Written on the back cover: A respected authority since 1961. I can see why. This is a good book. What’s more, at around £6 it’s very accessible. At the time of writing, Amazon has it listed with the Search Inside feature – so go take a slightly closer look!

Interested? Buy this book from Amazon.com.

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