It’s fair to say that getting caught in an avalanche isn’t much fun. Even if you’re wearing a transceiver and there’s someone close by, your chances of survival are slim.
If you’re lucky enough, there’ll be a small airspace around your head. This will very quickly become supersaturated with the CO2 you exhale leading to suffocation - but not if you’re wearing an Avalung.
Wearing the Avalung dramatically increases your chances of survival. It straps on under your jacket like the shoulder holsters worn by cops in ‘70s New York detective shows. An aqualung-style mouthpiece extends from the sling to just below your chin.
If you are buried in a slide, you breathe through the mouthpiece and the Avalung sucks air from one area of the snow pack and pushes the CO2 out into another, so your fresh supply isn’t contaminated.
It isn’t a gimmick - it really works. There are people walking around today because they were wearing an Avalung when a slide hit and their friends had extra precious seconds to dig them out. So while £100 seems like a big outlay for something you might never to need to use, it could be the best cash you’ve ever spent if Mother Nature’s in a particularly bad mood.