Olivier Fabre's Testimonial


We know it: the mountains are beautiful, as much as they are unpredictable. Olivier Fabre, survivor of an avalanche on January 23rd at Alpe d'Huez, shares his experience with us.

"I have always done off-piste skiing since I was young. Deep down, because of my skiing level and my level of caution and knowledge in off-piste skiing, I never thought I would be caught in an avalanche. The snowpack seemed very stable and healthy. We couldn't analyze the situation properly with the south wind from the day before. The sun had left this area and made it difficult to observe the terrain features. I got caught by this place which is very, perhaps too familiar to me. I enter the slope and barely started, before gaining speed or even making a turn, I find myself lying in the snow without understanding anything. I am not even aware that I am in an avalanche, my level of vigilance being at its lowest."

1 second passed. I rush to grab the handle of my Reactor, which I had practiced pulling many times at home, with my thickest mittens. Even though I had perfectly adjusted my handle to the right height, the fact that it was very angular and extremely easy to pull in training, I almost thought I wouldn't make it. I felt the backpack inflate. I only jumped over small rocks, which could have been fatal if I had been underneath without the airbag."

I only descended 270 meters of altitude. Everything stops, I find myself lying head down in the snow. I quickly realize that I have nothing. I realize that I had an incredible amount of luck. We are dealing with a level 3 avalanche (a car could be buried), there are many ice blocks around me, there were small rock bars and large rock blocks at the bottom of the slope on which I could have been crushed. Without my Reactor, I don't think I would have made it. My old backpack had a relatively round handle, which I now realize, I certainly wouldn't have been able to pull. It was also not adjustable and did not stick out as much from the shoulder strap."

I came out unscathed thanks to my Arva backpack, thanks to the fact that we respected the safety rules to adopt in the mountains and thanks to luck.

We always ski one by one with distance, I didn't put on my straps, my handle was ready to be triggered, I put my underarm strap on well and attached all the straps well. What remains of this experience is that it is very difficult to anticipate and avoid an avalanche. I think I could get caught again, despite all the vigilance and experience one may have. However, we can still apply the safety rules that we must adopt in the mountains and be equipped with powerful, checked, recent, and well-mastered safety equipment."

Olivier Fabre

Your Essentials for Off-Piste Outings

When planning an off-piste outing, it is essential to plan your day. Wearing mountain rescue and safety equipment is mandatory as soon as you leave the secured slopes. Therefore, it is important that you have the right equipment with you, know how to use safety techniques, and prepare yourself - just in case.

    Even if you have planned your route and checked the weather, it is important to be equipped, but also sufficiently prepared in case you cannot avoid an avalanche, or if you come across a buried person...

    Did you know that you only have 15 minutes to maximize survival chances? During a rescue, you will need your beacon to locate and rescue a buried person. Your beacon allows you to find buried people in the snow. Combined with a shovel and a probe, this trio offers the best chances of successfully performing an avalanche rescue on your own, and can reduce rescue time to just 11 minutes.

    However, finding a buried person in an avalanche is easier said than done. Make sure you know how to use your equipment before heading into the mountains and practice regularly. It is also recommended to have your beacon checked every 2 or 3 years (depending on usage frequency) to maintain performance.
    For additional protection in case of an avalanche, airbag backpacks offer formidable effectiveness. In the event of an avalanche, an airbag can help you stay on the surface by increasing the volume of your body, thereby increasing your chances of survival. When choosing your airbag backpack for the first time, there are a few things to consider:

    ● Mechanical gas or electrical drive system

    ● Trigger handle or cable system

    ● Airbag inflation power

    ● Number and positioning of airbags. Our REACTOR airbag backpacks are equipped with two airbags, thus providing a rescue solution if one of them is damaged during the avalanche. Also, the positioning and size of the deployed airbag can increase your chances of staying on the surface as much as possible

    ● Backpack weight

    ● Backpack comfort