If you are one of the millions heading off to the Alps on a winter skiing holiday this year, there is one piece of extra equipment you might want to consider packing.
The Avalanche Airbag System, also known as ABS technology, is now more popular than ever before, and if you are a daredevil who likes to head off-piste on your skiing holiday, this backpack complete with airbags might just save your life.
As we spend most of our winter in Austrian Alps, we hear heartbreaking stories all season long of adventurous skiers caught up in terrifying avalanches, and earlier this year, Prince Friso of the Netherlands became the latest ‘victim’ while skiing off-piste in the luxury Austrian resort of Lech.
Sadly, the Prince remains in a coma in a London hospital, and eight months on, he is only showing minimal signs of consciousness. What makes this story even more depressing is the fact that the childhood skiing friend that accompanied Prince Friso survived without serious injury and all because he was wearing an avalanche airbag.
While the avalanche airbag is not a new concept, (it has been around since 1985), the success rate of this high-tech backpack has propelled it into the media, and as such, the demand for this ‘life-saving’ piece of skiing equipment is so high, that German and Austrian manufacturers are struggling to keep up.
So how does the avalanche airbag work? Well, you wear it like a normal, everyday backpack. Should you be caught in an avalanche, a pull-cord will release two airbags (one each side) and lift you onto the surface of the snow as it rolls down the mountain – thus, keeping you elevated and not buried under the snow.
Documented accidents show a staggering 97% survival rate of avalanche victims wearing an ABS, and no matter how sceptical you are about these kinds of products, you cannot ignore statistics like that!
The avalanche airbag is still a relatively expensive piece of skiing equipment, but with many ski resorts offering them on a rental basis, you can stay safe on the Alps, without compromising on your thrilling off-piste adventure.