Pascal Haegeli, Benjamin Zweifel, Frédéric Jarry, Spencer Logan, Hanno Bilek, Marke Bizkupic, Hermann Brugger, Markus Falk
Proceedings of 2012 International Snow Science Workshop in Anchorage, AK, 324-328
Publication year: 2012


Even though avalanche balloon packs have been promoted in Europe since the early 1990s, they have only truly established themselves as an accepted avalanche safety device over the last five to ten years. This particularly applies to North America, where a stream of regulatory hurdles delayed the introduction of the new technology. The goal of the present study is to provide an independent, up-to-date perspective on the effectiveness of avalanche balloon packs to reduce the likelihood of critical burials and to improve avalanche survival. The dataset used for the analysis consists of well-documented avalanche accident records from Austria, Canada, France, Switzerland and the United States. To ensure a most appropriate dataset for the evaluation of avalanche balloon packs, the dataset was limited to only include avalanche involvement records that had the potential to result in complete burial. For the main analysis, the dataset was further reduced to include only accidents that involved both users and nonusers of avalanche balloon packs to minimize the effect of a likely reporting bias. Using a multivariate approach to control for other factors contributing to avalanche survival, the present analysis offers a more comprehensive perspective and more accurately isolates the true impact of avalanche balloon packs than previous studies.