After checking the weather conditions and the avalanche buletin you can start planning your splitboard / backcountry route. Please keep in mind the vertical height, the ascent time and the level of difficulty as well as enough time for explorations and unusual happenings. Enjoy and good fun at your splitboard backcountry adventures, stay safe.

Overview for practical backcountry route planning:

Ski(splitboard) evaluation of the standard route according to SAC:

Our backcountry hikes are rated according to the Swiss scale of difficulties (SAC). Each of our routes is linked to the difficulty level, like that you can check, before entering an unknow route, what might be found on the way.

  1. The overall rating of the backcountry hikes is related to the most difficult part of each hike.
  2. The indication is made at good weather-, snow- and visibility conditions.
  3. The evaluation refers exclusively to the part of splitboarding / skiing.
  4. Alpine challenges (e.g. , hikes to the summit, climbs) are described in the text part of the hike. For climbing sections will be used the UIAA-Scale.

RatingSteepnessExposed AreasTerrain Uphill/DownhillNarrow sections

L (+)

up to 30°No exposed areas

Soft, hilly, flat ground

No narrow sections

WS (+-) beginnerover 30°Short slides in case of a fall

soft tapering Mostly open backcountry with short scarps, obstacles with possibility to avoid, (kickturns necessary)

Short narrow sections, not steep

ZS (+-) intermediateover 35°Longer slides in case of a fall, possibility to stop (danger of injuries)

Short scarps, without possibility to avoid, obstacles in moderate steep areas, requires good splitboarding/skiing, (safe kickturns necessary)

Short narrow sections, quite steep

S (+) advancedover 40°

Long slides in case of a fall, sometimes straight to scarps (Danger to Life)

Scarps without possibility to avoid, many obstacles in steep area, requires very good splitboarding/skiing

Long narrow sections, short turns can be done by good riders

SS (+-) experts

over 45°

Long slides in case of a fall, straight to scarps (Danger to Life)

Overall very steep area with lots of obstacles and rocksteps in between

Long, very steep and narrow sections, short turns, will be followed by “jumping turns” sometimes no turns possible

AS (+-)
pros / kamikaze

over 50°

Very exposed, a fall can cause death easily

Really steep faces or couloirs, no possibility to relax during descent.

Long, very steep and narrow sections, as well as rock steps “jumping turns” necessary

Freaks only
over 55°

Extremly exposed, absolutely forbidden to fall

Extreme Faces and Couloires

Rappeling can be necessary

Alpine-technical challenges (e.g. climbs to the summit, climbing sections,...) will be described in the text. For climbing sections we use the UIAA-scale.

All right,

You found a backcountry route in our recommendations, that you like? 

The necessary information for further planning you find directly on the route-page adjusted as far as possible to the route you want to do.
Checke the weather, Risk of avalanches possibly hot-spots at you route. The gradient map for tirol can be very helpful. The route-map is just for orientation, the drawn route depends on conditions and other factors, so it can differer a lot from the route you might use. So you have to check on your own topographic map. It is always good to have an alternative route in mind, if the conditions are not as expected.

STOP OR GO, Method for strategic decision making.

"Stop or Go" is concentrated knowledge about risk-management around snow conditions and avalanche awareness. This knowledge is shown on a small card for easy use. Check the picture below.

Strategic action at backcountry touring (splitboard or ski).

stop or go translated into english, quelle OEAV in german

stop or go method english, original developed by OEAV

1. Strategy to find decisions and suggestions for limits (Check 1) and evaluation of danger-signals (Check 2)
2. "Standard-Action" for planning and terrain / area (check 1) combined with the level of avalanche danger and gradient. (analog to the reduction method of W. Munter). The danger level of avalanches is an important parameter for planning. 

Avalanch danger level 3, we stay under 35° at the whole hillside (here:"STOP")
At avalanche danger level 3  an avalanche can be caused by little aditional loads. Note: Tour options are limited!
The snowpack is bonded moderate to weak on many steep slopes. An avalanche triggering is possible even with low additional loads (eg a splitboard riders, skiers, ...), particularly on steep slopes. In certain conditions, some medium and occasionally large natural avalanches are possible. Splitboard / backcountry touring requires avalanche assessment capacities. Tour options are limited!
The avalanche hazard level 3 is assigned a medium hazard potential of 8 - This means that level 3 is twice as dangerous as level 2 (hazard potential 4).
As danger-signals at level 3 you consider the formation of cracks and compression sounds.
Please note:
At level 3, we have to reckon with remote triggering. This means that we can also trigger snow slab avalanches in less steep terrain. In our limit recommendations for this risk level, therefore the entire hillside is considered. At level 3, we stay below 35 °. The whole hillside is considered.
The scope for level 3 covers the entire hillside. This means that the steepest part in a hillside has to be less than 35 °. This severe restriction is necessary because avalanches can be caused even with low additional loads (a single splitboarder, snowboarder, snowshoer, skier) and also from moderately steep terrain (below 30 °).
Warning: Most of the avalanche incidences happen at level 3 - therefor we have strictly to fullfil the "Standard-Action" (relaxation distances, use favorable areas, clear communication,...)


Measure gradient, Reason: increase the estimation accuracy of the terrain

Repeated measurement of the slope increases the estimation accuracy.

To get the best possible estimates, it is necessary to practice the determination of the slopes. For this purpose we first estimated a slope steepness and then check this against the "pendulum" method or means of measurement for inclination (of course only where safe to do so!).

From the beginning, great emphasis is put on the making of pitch classes:

  • Class: below 30 °
  • Class: 30 ° to 34 °
  • Class: 35 ° to 39 °
  • Class: 40 ° and more.

The estimated area of ​​each refer to an area of ​​10 mx 10 m. A clue can be assumed that rock cliffs interspersed area is at least 40 ° and "kickturn-area" at least 30 ° steep.

The pendulum method: You put the ski pole into the snow and make an impression. Then you set it with the tip to the upper end of the print and oscillate perpendicular the second pole to the bottom. If the second pole reaches the end of the impression than the area is 30° steep.  Per around 10 cm 3 ° deviation of the slope is steeper or flatter.

Fresh windblown snow? Dangerous for me?

Fresh windblown snow is  soft but bonded and very easy to trigger!

"The wind is the architect of avalanches," From the wind moved snow is deposited in the lee (lee) as the windblown snow. Double wind speed leads to 8-fold amount of moved snow. Snowdrift has the characteristic property that it is soft similar to powder but bound. It can build up tension and therefore windblown snow can easily be triggert as floe avalanche. As is expected in the mountains, almost always with the wind, the largest snowdrift accumulations occur during or shortly after a snowfall period. It should be noted that gutters and troughs can be filled in all exposures with windblown snow. Important issues related to windblown snow are: How fresh is the windblown snow? The fresher, the more dangerous! How much is in the windblown snow slope? The more, the more dangerous! How is the old snowpack? The old snowpack is hard and slick or with surface frost it is unfavorable! Note: Fresh windblown snow  is the greatest threat for us. The question - fresh windblown snow, dangerous for me? Therefore is the most important question within Check 2 !

While skinning windblown snow can be identified at sharp edges at the side of your ascent track, blunt cracks and determine resistance.

Driven snow "is bound soft but". Especially when "trace" the rise can be stated this many times. "Soft" means-driven snow can be easily confused with loose powder. "Bound" is that stress can be transferred and thus driven snow "snow board capable".

Direct signals of windblown snow are:

  • Cracks in the snowpack, often next to the track or on the track starting.
  • Sharp edges of the track, even when the snow is "soft".
  • Matt sheen of the snow surface (no glitter), snow surface processed by the wind.
  • Blunt resistance while skinning.

To get an idea of ​​the conditions, you should leave the existing track again and again to skin in untracked snow. Like that you can get feeling for different kinds of snow.

"Standard-Action" in the backcountry / terrain, clear guidelines for ascent and descent

The "Standard-Action" in the backcountry reduces our risk. Most of them are easy to learn and to apply.

7 points belong to the "Standard-Action". (Check Stop or Go card, check 1 and check 2) The "Standard-Action" will always be applied, it dosn`t matter how good or bad the actual conditions are. The "Standard-Action"   acts like a risk-minimizer without limiting the backcountry feeling too much. Applying the "Standard-Action" will not only reduce your risk, but also empower your feeling of freedom and fun on your backcountry adventures.

Check your avalanche transceiver at the beginning of your tour

You do the tranceiver check at the starting point of your backcountry adventure.

At the beginning of every backcountry adventure we do a material check for beeing sure that we carry everything at a suitable amount. Everybody carries avalanche tranceiver, shovel, probe, cell phones, then we check the suitable amunt of biwak-bags, first-aid equipment, food for loger routes,... . Also we can remember at e.g. Suncream, cold-protection, glacier glaces,... 

  • Tranceiver-Check „receiving“: All members switch their tranceivers off. The Guide switches his one on to "send". Now everybody seperately switches his tranceiver on and checks if it is "receiving" than they turn to "send" and safely store it near their bodies. 
  • Tranceiver-Check „sending“: After checking all the tranceivers for receiving the guide hikes around 20 meters ahead and switches his avalanche tranceiver to receiving. Then everybody crosses seperately in a distance of 10 meters the guide and he will check the functionality of the tranceivers in the group. After that he switches his tranceiver to send, stores it near his body and the backcountry fun can start.

Factor human and group: Speed, Breaks, Groupdynamic

The right speed and  good break rhythm are as important as groupdynamic processes

Easy to understand are the speed (especially at the beginning) and the breaks. For both aspects you orient at the weakest member of the group. But the groupdynamic processes which appear in every group are mor complicated. So it is very important to sensibilize for thos processes. One of the most dangerous aspects is the motivation to push limits. The limits will be pushed due to overmotivation and strong will to achieve e.g. the summit at moderate conditions. Than it is easily possible that an acident occures. This happens becaus you do not get any feedback of the area, only when you passed the limits to much.

Possibly dangerous circumstances:

  • Responsibility delegation (It is not clear who takes the responsibility, everybody thinks somebody else is responsible)
  • Pressure to conform (the pressure or will to adjust your own opinion to the others of the group)
  • wrong security feeling in big groups (together we can do, but the avalanche dosn`t care about a few human beings)
  • overmotivation and competitiv situations.

Applying the Stop or Go method you can reduce your risk!


Summed up we can say that the Stop or Go method contains the "Standard-Action" in the area of planning and backcountry (terrain) together with the limits regarding the avalanche levels and the classical evaluation and decisionmaking it leads to a decionstrategy to reduce risk at backcountry touring.

Experience - judgment - action is the recomended way. The simple card and short description should not lead to underestimation of the knowledge and sophisticated content. So it is recommended to practice, practice and practice.

Only the combination of theory and practice concerning  the Stop or Go  method can help to reduce your risk being trapped in an avalanche at backcountry touring.

Better than nothing, the Stop or Go method is a sophisticated and approved tool to reduce the risk of avalanche incidences, and enhance the joy of backcountry riding..
Quelle: OEAV, Österreichischer Alpenverein

GPS devices in route planning

Meanwhile, more and more people are using GPS devices or mobile apps for route planning.

Article in work.