A safe mountain resort is a primary concern for the owners, operators and visitors to the resort. Notonly is this often a legal obligation, but also makes prudent financial sense. Natural hazards such asavalanches, rock falls and debris slides, unless addressed and mitigated, can be problematic to bothwinter and summer visitors.
Solutions which are more commonly used to protect civil engineering infrastructure (roads, railwaysand buildings) are increasing common within sports resorts in mountainous areas.
Depending upon the natural hazard anticipated, Maccaferri now offers a graded range of solutionsto mitigate risk from most events.
Given the safety implications of placing the rockfall barriers in the wrong location on themountainside, or the mitigation measure not performing as anticipated, resort operators arerecommended to work with an experienced solution provider. In addition, throughout the worldthere are numerous technical and product standards to which these rockfall barriers (e.g. RMCbarriers) should adhere: European Test and Approval Guideline 27 (ETAG027(1)) for rockfall fencesand CE Marking. Clients should insist upon snow supporting structures/snow nets which havecertification in accordance with the appropriate local standards. For example, a snow fence shouldbe certified by the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche, Davos(2), and have obtained thehomologation of the Federal Office for the Environment (BAFU-FOEN).
There are 4 zones on snow and rock slopes prone to natural hazards:
- Detachment or Initiation Zone – where the avalanche breaks from the snow-pack and starts moving, or rocks detach from the slope face
- Transit Zone – the hazard event is now in progress down the mountain, gaining momentum, energy and potentially size
- Impact Zone – the hazard event may then impact something in its path; buildings, ski or mountain infrastructure, roads, railways or often forested areas
- Run-out Zone – following impact, or not, the natural hazard will gradually lose energy progressively
(1) ETAG027 Guideline for European Technical Approval of Falling Rock Protection Kits, 2008
(2) Margareth, S., 2007: Defense structures in avalanche starting zones. Federal Office for the Environment, Bern; WSL Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos.