Some things you probably dont know about avalanches

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In medieval times the Matterhorn in Switzerland was believed to contain a ruined city inhabited by the souls of avalanche victims.

We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the centre of an avalanche.

Montroc in the French Alps was hit in 1999 by a 60mph avalanche made up of 40,000 tons of snow. Twelve people were killed.

90% of people caught in avalanches start them themselves.

In world war one the Germans realised that avalanches could be set off by shooting, and then used as weapons. They used this tactic to great effect and thousands of troops were killed.

In 2002 the Russian village of Karmadon was entirely wiped out when an avalanche crashed into the huge Kolka Glacier, breaking the glacier free and sending it hurtling down the mountain at over 100mph. This was the largest ever recorded ice avalanche – some scientist believe this could have been as a result global warming.

There was a town in the USA once called Wellington. One winter night, whilst two trains lay trapped in the Cascade mountains because of the snowfall, a huge avalanche struck and swept the trains down the mountain. Wellington was destroyed completely by the avalanche and has never been rebuilt. Wellington avalanche – Wikipedia

In 1951 the whole of the Alps was suffering the “Winter of Terror” when over 200 people were killed as a direct result of avalanches. The huge amount of tragedies led to new studies of avalanches and avalanche safety.

In August 1947 a Lancaster bomber was making a routine flight from Buenos Aires to Santiago. It disappeared and no sign was found of it until in 2000 when an engine and body parts were found near Mount Tupangaco in the Andes. It had crashed into a mountain, creating an avalanche which engulfed the plane, also sucking it deep into the glacier, over time until the glacier spat it out, piece by piece.

The Austrian village of Galtur was destroyed by a huge avalanche in 1999. The town was believed to be in an avalanche safe area – this incident lead to new studies and findings in the science of avalanches including the discovery of the ’soltation layer’, which scientists believe can ‘turbo charge’ an avalanche.

On the 31st May, 1970 the Peruvian villages of Yungay and Ranrahirca were entirely destroyed. 47,194 people were killed by a huge mud, rock and glacial avalanche which was half a mile across and destroyed everything in its path.

Chamonix has been hit badly by an avalanches before – whatever you do, find out how to be safe in the mountains first before entering avalanche prone areas.

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