Tree well suffocation death at Stevens on Sunday - Page 2 - Snowboarding Forum - Snowboard Enthusiast Forums
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Old 01-24-2012, 04:04 PM   #11 (permalink)
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An avalanche airbag would be pretty worthless in a tree well incident. "Maybe" it would provide you some air space, but in all reality I think it would probably make it worse. The avalung is really the only tool that makes sense for this and alert partners. Because once you are in you are fucked until someone helps you out.
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Old 01-24-2012, 04:13 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Yup: Snowboarder trapped in tree well, saved by cell phone | HULIQ

That is assuming a lot of things though, obviously. Cell coverage, timing, available air, you don't drop your phone 3 feet deeper into the snow, etc. Though still a reason I carry an extra cell phone battery in my pocket. ;-)
Yea after reading shit like this I'm seriously considering using my Avalung and Beacon inbounds on epic powder days especially when riding alone, this is yet another reason to have your phone integrated with your helmet audio\music. Even if you didn't have voice dialing configured you could at least easily dial the last person you called and have them relay your info to 911 or ski patrol or something.

Also seriously consider attaching a micro-wistle(like the side of a pea) to your backpack straps.

The trick at that point is just trying to keep calm and not make the situation worse
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Old 01-24-2012, 05:41 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Yea after reading shit like this I'm seriously considering using my Avalung and Beacon inbounds on epic powder days especially when riding alone, this is yet another reason to have your phone integrated with your helmet audio\music. Even if you didn't have voice dialing configured you could at least easily dial the last person you called and have them relay your info to 911 or ski patrol or something.

Also seriously consider attaching a micro-wistle(like the side of a pea) to your backpack straps.

The trick at that point is just trying to keep calm and not make the situation worse
Yeah I'm an in-bounds only rider (so far, only one season in) so I have no real avalanche/BC gear. But last year on a deep powder day, shooting through treefields alone, watching the tree wells zoom by on either side (and at some points being forced to split the distance between two wells by a small amount), it kind of got me to thinking. So I do carry the cell phone, extra battery, and a whistle (it's bigger than a pea, but not bigger than my pinky). I know none of those things make me bulletproof, but they can't hurt to have.

P.S. When people say out of bounds, do they mean avalanche boundary or resort boundary? I'm assuming the former (well, technically both, though the former is more restrictive). Because on many maps I've seen avalanche bounds marked in one color (different from resort bounds), but when you enter those bounds there is really no signage or ropes letting you know (other than the map in your pocket) and because of that I've ended up in those zones (within resort bounds but outside avalanche bounds) alone on deep powder days and felt kind of stupid afterwards when I realized it.
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:07 PM   #14 (permalink)
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A front page pic from today's paper. Often there are runs closed for avy danger and at times chair 6 is only open to those who have full avy gear.

Bountiful January snow good for Mt. Baker skiers, water supply - Top Stories - bellinghamherald.com
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Old 01-25-2012, 10:00 AM   #15 (permalink)
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^^I've never been up there when chair 6 has been beacon access only. I swear the Canyon & Gunners Bowl is closed just about every day I'm at Baker though. I seriously haven't been in the bowl for 4 or 5 years.

Tree wells scare the living hell out of me, probably more so than avalanches since they're more of a threat for the type of riding I usually find myself doing. Any they can frequently be found in bounds. I really need to get a whistler and start carrying my phone too.

Getting back to the topic though, has anyone actually heard any info on this tree well death at Stevens? I still haven't seen anything at all.
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Old 01-25-2012, 05:48 PM   #16 (permalink)
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The thing with tree wells also is we really are not talking about those "pits" that you can actually see around tree trunks. Where the real danger lies in the unseen ones.
Thanks for the eye opener. I was indeed not aware of that. I would really like to be in a controlled headfirst well submersion just to see what is and isn't possible. I know I could stay calm, but I don't know if I could undo my bindings, or what else I could or couldn't do. I'd like to think I could clear a pocket for my head, then slowly gather snow from the "walls" and pack a hard base under my head to use for doing a pushup/handstand to wriggle my way back out of the hole (this might need to be an iterative process which would require time/air/stamina). In reality that may be a dream if my arms are straitjacketed to my sides, or if the snow can't be packed because of a branch lattice surrounding me. I've crashed head first in deep powder (wide open, no trees), and ended up upside down, pretty buried, and spent 30 seconds doing some houdini act before I could see daylight again, but I always managed to wriggle out and usually with a smile and a laugh. The well sounds quite different though, and not just because of the branches.

Worse yet, obviously every single well is different, so whatever you do in your controlled test, you're not guaranteed to be able to do in the next one you get into. Still, it is a good starting point I guess. I did a lot of tree riding last year, solo. Need to think twice about that anymore. I do like your point about looking for large old growth groves and sticking with those.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:29 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I have fallen into a tree well - head first - and it was terrifying. It happened in my first year riding (about 12 years ago) at Shames Mountain in NW BC; old growth coastal cedar, hemlock and balsam trees in an area which gets 40 feet of snow a year, a pretty lethal combination for a noob who, stupidly, was riding alone at the time.

I saw the well at the last minute, tried to turn and somehow slid into it head first and came to rest pretty well in a vertical position with my board stuck fast across one side of the top of the well. Fortunately, the walls didn't cave in around me so I was not faced with the immediate liklihood of suffocation but I did knock down a fair amount of snow on myself in my struggle to get out. Needless to say I was scared shitless.

It was SO much work to get up into a position to release my bindings (the only time I can say thank god for step in bindings) but at least the well was wide enough for me to lift my torso up to reach my board. I had to make several attempts before I was successful and had to really focus on not panicking. To cap things off, I was on a flattish pitch so I had to paddle board out to an area where I could get back on my feet. Took well over an hour to get back to somewhere I could get back on my board and I was totally exhausted.

It certainly could have been much worse (I don't know what I would have done if there had been branches or the snow had immediately caved in on me) and it taught me enough of a lesson that I have never repeated the experience.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:50 PM   #18 (permalink)
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This is why I should start carrying syringes with pre-made speedballs on pow days.

I ain't fucking suffocating - slam that shit in your arm and go out with a bang, quickly!
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:28 PM   #19 (permalink)
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This is why I should start carrying syringes with pre-made speedballs on pow days.

I ain't fucking suffocating - slam that shit in your arm and go out with a bang, quickly!

Either that or PCP. Smoke that shit and just go into a frenzy, ripping branches, melting snow... like a tazmanian devil.
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:36 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Either that or PCP. Smoke that shit and just go into a frenzy, ripping branches, melting snow... like a tazmanian devil.
Ok your crazy joke gave me a new idea for safety device to carry in pack. Blow torch. Sounds crazy, and I'm probably overlooking something obvious, but seriously, couldn't you whip that shit out and melt yourself out in no time? At the very least you could melt a giant hole for mobility and air, which seem to be the two main killers (lack of air and lack of mobility... being stuck and suffocating). Am I being an idiot thinking that would actually work, or is there any merit to that idea?

Granted I've never even held a blowtorch so I have no idea how they work. For all I know you'd just light yourself on fire and burn up, assuming you could even ignite it.
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