Actually, the guy who sat next to me on the first leg of my flight was an avalanche rescue student, and we had a fascinating conversation (well, I had a fascinating conversation – his mileage probably varied, especially once I started going on about Flash restaurant menus).
I learned that avalanches have a five-stage scale of size: 1 can knock you over, 2 can bury and kill you, 3 can wreck cars, 4 can take out a railway car and 5 can wipe out towns. I learned about the fracture line, where the avalanche separates from the rest of the snow pack. And I learned that it would be a very good idea if I never travel east of, oh, Burnaby ever again unless it’s a safe distance from anything snow-capped-mountain-y. (30,000 feet ought to do it.)