The physics of an avalanche is as easy to understand as placing one book on top of another, then tipping the lower book up until the top one slides off. Voila – a bookalanche! The grip or amount of friction between the books will determine how easily they slide apart. If they are both dry and glossy, they’ll slide apart at almost any angle, but, if they have somehow bonded together through heat, humidity or moisture, you can turn them upside down and they may not come apart.
This book example illustrates two important concepts of avalanches. One, avalanches occur when a bond (friction) fails, and two; it can be difficult, if not impossible to predict exactly when that bond will fail without some additional information. At times you could turn a mountain range over and shake it without the snow moving and at other times it will avalanche if you gently poke it with a ski pole.
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Category: 07 Avalanche Avoidance