One of the main goals and tasks of the ICAR Avalanche Commission is to provide a platform to present avalanche search and rescue systems. The exchange of experience and the discussions at our meetings help to gain new insights and to transfer the knowledge to the practice.
A main task of the commission is to issue recommendations on safety measures to minimize avalanche accidents. Securing the equipment compatibility of avalanche search devices is another focus. Furthermore, the commission played a dominant role in the unification of the European avalanche danger scale. Currently, these efforts are extended to harmonize the European avalanche danger scale with the North American systems.
The commission also provides information on avalanche accidents. For instance some conclusions follow; the mean number of annual avalanche accident fatalities in the European Alps is 106. This is calculated from a 20-year record of fatal avalanche accidents in the participating alpine countries. Adding the number of the fatal accidents in North America, the mean increases to 138. Most victims released the avalanche themselves during skiing or hiking in backcountry terrain. However, a significant number of people died while they were skiing or snowboarding off-piste or snowmobiling in the backcountry. For the latter groups, the annual numbers of fatal accidents are slightly increasing.