When multiple weak layers exist in the snowpack, often a smaller,
shallower avalanche will travel a few feet to a few yards and
the added weight and stress will trigger a deeper weak layer,
which results in a much larger and more dangerous avalanche.
These types of avalanches can be especially dangerous to people
because the following scenario: First, the person who triggers
the smaller avalanche will ride the first slide down. As the
smaller avalanche descends, it triggers a deeper avalanche.
By the time the deeper avalanche picks up speed and descends
to the bottom, the victim has stopped at the bottom of the slope
and the secondary, larger avalanche will pile debris on top
of the victim, often burying them very deeply with no hope of
a live recovery.
When you deal with a snowpack that has the potential to step
down into deeper weak layers, it’s important to notch
back your level of exposure because of the dangerous consequences.