Global Mountain Solutions Inc.Solutions for the InAccessible
Call Toll-Free 1(866)659-2245

Forecasting and Control


Active avalanche control consists of either mechanical or explosive methods. Mechanical methods are used to control remote, smaller and less hazardous areas whereas explosive methods are used to control larger accessible high hazard terrain.

Mechanical avalanche control is used to deal with weak layers in the upper part of the snowpack, this disruption of weak layers can be done through a variety of methods. For smaller features boot packing or ski cutting can be used and larger features can be controlled by using track vehicles such as snowcats. These techniques can successful in removing the tensile strength in the upper part of the snowpack.

Explosive techniques involve a variety of methods through the artificial triggering of avalanches by detonation of charges on the surface or within the snowpack. Some methods include manually hand tossing and lowering of shots by bombing from a helicopter and the use of an air gun or avalauncher. Newer methods involve strategically placed remote controlled installations that place an air blast on top of the snowpack in avalanche start zones. This method is effective and brings a fast deployment while reducing the risk to avalanche workers needing to travel in and around avalanche terrain.


Avalanche forecasting is a crucial aspect to the development of Avalanche Safety Programs. If an operation has a potential risk in avalanche terrain, an Avalanche Safety Plan must be developed to manage and monitor avalanche hazards. Avalanche forecasting is complicated and difficult to complete and in order to forecast avalanches properly the following elements need to be monitored: weather, snowpack structure, and snowpack stability.

Careful assessment of hazards and risks are completed through avalanche forecasting, GMS technicians gather evidence, define avalanche character, location, sensitivity and likelihood of triggering, spatial distribution and destructive size in order to define the avalanche hazard. The primary goal of an avalanche forecast is to minimize the vulnerability and reduce the exposure to workers and infrastructure by conveying the avalanche risk through a descriptive forecast that all involved can understand and relate to.

Avalanche forecasting can be done onsite or remotely depending on the nature and scope of the potential avalanche problem.


Avalanche control or defenses are implemented to eliminate or reduce the hazard and threat that avalanches pose to human life, production and infrastructure. Controls are put in place using active, passive or social intervention avalanche methods. These methods have been developed to ensure safety while still allowing for productivity. GMS has a team of avalanche forecasters with many years of experience in all sectors of the avalanche industry including highways, mining, guiding, forestry and construction projects. GMS strives to create avalanche control programs that are safe and cost effective while keeping your operation as productive as possible.

Snow avalanches can occur through a combination of factors including snow accumulation, slope steepness, & weak snowpack layers. GMS avalanche control programs will address the inherent hazard and risk by formulating a mitigation planning and execution using one of the control methods described below.


In most situations where active control cannot be carried out due to the presence of permanent infrastructure or a heavily traveled transport corridor, passive control methods can be put into place. The goal is to slow, stop, divert, or prevent snow from moving. Techniques for passive control involve construction of structures or modification of terrain. Structures include, but are not limited to: snow retention structures, avalanche barriers, snow guard devices or deflection structures, snow sheds, and reforestation. Please see Installations for more detail.


Social intervention is a powerful tool used as well today. This method can reduce the incidence of human interaction with avalanche terrain simply by modifying the behaviour of people. This can be done through educational programs provided by Global Mountain Solutions, taught by instructors with in-depth experience in all sectors of the avalanche industry. Introductory awareness training provides the fundamentals of traveling in avalanche terrain and companion rescue. Social intervention is also shared through the avalanche forecasting at operations where the forecaster can share the hazards and risks on a daily basis so that all those involved in the operation share the same risk tolerance when it comes to working in and around the complex world of avalanches. Please also see Worker Training Programs for more detail.

If you have any questions with regards to our services, please contact us at


1-866- 659-2245