The Terrifying Real Science Of Avalanches

From 1veritasium, 2veritasium, or sciencium.

Avalanches are beautiful, majestic, and completely terrifying – this is a video all about the science of avalanches. Head to to start your free 30-day trial, and get 20% off an annual premium subscription.

A massive thank you to everyone at Whistler Blackcomb for making this shoot happen – Dane Gergovich, David Iles, Alastair Collis, Erin Taylor, and everyone else on the ski patrol team. Thank you for keeping us safe!

A massive thank you to Bruce Tremper, Niko Schirmer, and Mark Smiley for their expertise and help with this video. We are truly grateful for your time and expertise.

Check out Niko’s channel here — it’s easily some of the best skiing content on YouTube.

If you have any intention of going into the backcountry, you have to read Bruce’s book – Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. It’s the Bible for this stuff, and the book that inspired us to make this video.

Special thanks to our Patreon supporters! Join the community to help us keep our videos free, forever:

Adam Foreman, Anton Ragin, Balkrishna Heroor, Bertrand Serlet, Bill Linder, Blake Byers, Burt Humburg, Chris Harper, Dave Kircher, David Johnston, Evgeny Skvortsov, Garrett Mueller, Gnare, gpoly, I. H., John H. Austin, Jr., john kiehl, Josh Hibschman, Juan Benet, KeyWestr, Kyi, Lee Redden, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Martin, Matthias Wrobel, Max Paladino, Meekay, meg noah, Michael Krugman, Orlando Bassotto, Paul Peijzel, Richard Sundvall, Sam Lutfi, Stephen Wilcox, Tj Steyn, Toni , TTST, Ubiquity Ventures, wolfee

If you’re looking for a molecular modeling kit, try Snatoms, a kit I invented where the atoms snap together magnetically –

Tremper, B. (2001). Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. Mountaineers Books. –
McClung, D. & Schaerer, P. (2006). The Avalanche Handbook. Mountaineers Books. –
Hopfinger, E. J. (1983). Snow Avalanche Motion and Related Phenomena. Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics. –
Schweizer, J. et al. (2003). Snow avalanche formation. Reviews of Geophysics. –
Schweizer, J. et al. (2008). Review of spatial variability of snowpack properties and its importance for avalanche formation. Cold Regions Science and Technology. –
Jamieson, B. (2006). Formation of refrozen snowpack layers and their role in slab avalanche release. Reviews of Geophysics. –
Schweizer, J. et al. (2016). Avalance release 101. International Snow Science Workshop Proceeding. –
Schweizer, J. (2008). Snow avalanche formation and dynamics. Cold Regions Science and Technology. –

Images & Video:
Skiing and snowboarding footage by Niko Schirmer –
World’s Biggest Avalanche (c)Thom Goddard/All Star Films Ltd 2015. Thank you to the Thom Goddard Channel for use –
Newspaper clippings via –
Video of a snow slab avalanche via Trottet, B. et al. (2022). Transition from sub-Rayleigh anticrack to supershear crack propagation in snow avalanches. Nature Physics. –
Remote Triggered Avalanche via Henry’s Avalanche Talk – Remote Triggering of an Avalanche
WW1 images via Brugnara, Y. et al. (2016). December 1916: Deadly Wartime Weather. Geographica Bernensia –
Major Avalanches via Geomorphological Hazards –
White Friday avalanche illustration via Avalanches WIllow –
White Friday aftermath via Lost In History –
Field mass on Marmolada via Austrian National Library –
Yungay disaster via NOAA –
Yungay aftermath via AMC Museum –
Bruce Tremper Image via utavy –
Snowpack via –
Snowpack via –
Snow crystals via Reiweger, I. (2011). Failure of weak snow layers. ETH. –

Directed by Petr Lebedev
Written by Petr Lebedev and Derek Muller
Edited by Peter Nelson (Additional editing by James Horsley)
Animated by Jakub Misiek, Fabio Albertelli, Alex Zepherin, and Alex Drakoulis
Additional Research by Gregor Čavloviċ
Filmed by Petr Lebedev and Ryan Regehr
FPV Drone by Mitch Winton
Produced by Petr Lebedev, Derek Muller, Han Evans, Giovanna Utichi, Rob Beasley Spence, Emily Taylor and Gregor Čavloviċ

Thumbnail by Ren Hurley and Peter Sheppard
Additional video/photos supplied by Getty Images and Pond5
Music from Epidemic Sound