An avalanche that releases from a point and spreads downhill collecting more snow – different from a slab avalanche. Also called a point-release or sluff.
Loose snow sliding down a mountainside is called a loose snow avalanche. Small loose snow avalanches are called Sluffs. Loose snow avalanches can be dry or wet.
Loose snow avalanches usually start from a point and fan outward as they descend, and because of this they are also called “point releases.” Very few people are killed by loose snow avalanches because they tend to be small and they tend to fracture below you as you cross a slope instead of above you as slab avalanches often do. The avalanche culture tends to minimize the danger of loose snow avalanches, sometimes calling them “harmless sluffs.” But, of course, this is not always the case. Houses have been completely destroyed by “harmless sluffs,” and if caught in one, it can easily take the victim over cliffs, into crevasses or bury them deeply in a terrain trap such as a gully. Most of the people killed in sluffs are climbers who are caught in naturally-triggered sluffs that descend from above–especially in wet or springtime conditions. Also, wet loose snow slides consist of dense, heavy snow and can sometimes grow to large and destructive sizes.
Sluffs can actually be a sign of stability within the deeper snow when new snow sluffs down without triggering deeper slabs. Sluffs are usually easy to deal with but slabs are definitely not.