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How not to travel in the BC

Info, conditions and gear related to skiing or riding Colorado Peaks, including the 14ers! Ski/Ride Trip Reports
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Re: How not to travel in the BC

Postby jmc5040 » Tue Jan 01, 2013 6:09 pm

leggaj5 wrote:Newb question: So in this case, they could see the hand of the buried skier right away...should they have skiied to the clue before switching the beacon to search (assuming that it shouldn't take as long as it did in the video) or is the first step always to switch to search mode? Granted it shouldn't take that long to turn on search, but in a situation where every second is precious, should you act on the visible clue first?

Good question. I'd say it depends on the situation. If the hand is not moving I would throw my beacon on search as any other person in your party should also do so your not chasing your rescue partner who kept his in transmit. The reason I'd put it in search is that hand may just be a glove. If the hand is obviously visibly moving and they are the only victim then there would be no reason to go to search. The beacon is only a tool just like your eyes... always search with your eyes too while using a beacon.
"My senses become heightened and the stresses of life fade with each step I take further from civilization. When I'm in the wilderness my brain and body work seamlessly together to do their finest work - a single flowing track down one of natures high peaks." - Jeremy Jones

Re: How not to travel in the BC

Postby ChicagoMike » Tue Jan 01, 2013 6:12 pm

2 minutes just to get the beacon, didn't put the shovel together, everyone is sitting around in potential avy terrain. That guy is lucky he is not a stat.

Perfect example of why everyone needs to practice, practice, practice your beacon training.

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Re: How not to travel in the BC

Postby Carl » Tue Jan 01, 2013 6:15 pm

leggaj5 wrote:Newb question: So in this case, they could see the hand of the buried skier right away...should they have skiied to the clue before switching the beacon to search (assuming that it shouldn't take as long as it did in the video) or is the first step always to switch to search mode? Granted it shouldn't take that long to turn on search, but in a situation where every second is precious, should you act on the visible clue first?


In the time it took me to write this it looks like jmc5040 responded as well. I agree it's a personal call that's situation dependent and I don't disagree with jmc5040's advice.

Here's how I would have liked to have seen my friends handle the situation...

1. Call out "avalanche!" to direct anyone fiddling with their equipment or enjoying the view to direct their attention back to the caught skier.
2. Maintain visual on the victim.
3. Person who sees victim's hand from original vantage point calls it out.
4. Someone take charge.
5. Determine if scene is safe or if there is risk of a second slide (appears that may be a risk here).
6. Leader tells one companion to stay put as lookout who can rescue the rescuers if needed.
7. Leader tells second companion to assemble shovel and stay put (so that beacon search can commence upslope of glove if it's not the victim).
8. Leader skis down to hand sticking out of snow to determine if it is victim (in this case it is, if not, all beacons on search and beacon search commences).
9. Leader announces to companion assembling shovel that he has located victim and to ski down to assist with shoveling.
10. Leader assembles shovel and begins strategic shoveling (i.e. on your knees down slope with gloves on)
11. Companion arrives to assist with shoveling.
12. Victim's head is cleared first if possible. If victim was injured, spotter can call 911 if he/she hasn't already and CPR commenced.
13. Dig out victim, don't attempt to pull victim out.

Just my take on things and I've probably left a few steps out. Yes it's arm chair quarterbacking but with some very basic training the rescue in this video could have gone a whole lot quicker, i.e. victim's head uncovered in under a minute. Glad it ended well.

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Re: How not to travel in the BC

Postby TallGrass » Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:47 pm

Bis prōficis, si cito prōficis. (~ Bis das, si cito das.)

Also, Beacon interference from Go-Pro, iPod, et alli
V-Shaped Conveyor-Belt Approach to Digging out Victims (also comments about shovel types)
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Re: How not to travel in the BC

Postby Doug Shaw » Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:17 pm

Carl wrote:Just my take on things and I've probably left a few steps out. Yes it's arm chair quarterbacking but with some very basic training the rescue in this video could have gone a whole lot quicker, i.e. victim's head uncovered in under a minute. Glad it ended well.


Thanks for posting actual constructive comments, Carl, rather than just more cheap internet criticism.

An additional suggestion is at some point calling out (loudly) for the buried party or parties from a safe/staging area to see if you can hear them responding. If you can, you know they are alive and at least their head is not buried or is very near the surface. This really costs very little in terms of delaying rescue prep, although I do recommend just staying quiet for five or ten seconds after calling out as there can sometimes be more delay than you expect in someone responding to your calls.

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Re: How not to travel in the BC

Postby Jim Davies » Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:53 pm

The buried guy was talking to the digger before he was even digging, which might explain the lack of urgency (the woman also says something like "I hear him" about 0:45, seconds after the burial). Messing with the beacon, leaving off the shovel handle, and the digger somehow leaving his gloves behind seem like avoidable mistakes, but if I'm hearing it right the victim was obviously conscious, uninjured, and able to breathe from the start.
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Re: How not to travel in the BC

Postby PaliKona » Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:21 pm

What route should one take from where the group is, down to the buried guy? It seems to me skiing down the slide route as well as the ridge to the right (with convexity) are both dangerous..thoughts?

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Re: How not to travel in the BC

Postby RoanMtnMan » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:45 am

Carl wrote:4. Someone take charge.


Well done Carl. That is how it should have gone down.

The person taking charge point needs more expansion though. I am in the camp that it should be decided at the TH in a large group. You run the risk of said leader being in the slide no matter what order you ski in. So a leader and secondary leader are of greater safety in my opinion. And the tour strategy should be planned accordingly. When something bad happens people seem to freeze up and a "take charge" person doesn't always emerge. I guess that is where trusted partners come into play. I believe that a group of backcountry travelers can significantly reduce risk if led by 2 or 3 experienced and ready leaders that are on the same page as opposed to 1. It doesn't always have to be overt, but understood in one fashion or another. In the video, there should have been at least two members controlling the skiers. If someone gets powder happy and jumps bail, then they have to deal with the consequences. But usually a few good chiefs can keep the cowboys in order.

However the moral of the video is, "if you are going to be dumb, you better be tough".
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Re: How not to travel in the BC

Postby peter303 » Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:52 am

All this stuff has been known for decades by the military and established outdoors groups.
That why those group have those annoying regulations on their trips.

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Re: How not to travel in the BC

Postby pills2619 » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:28 pm

WTF!!! Stay at the resort if you don't have the gear. This is a sport where greed gets you nowhere but dead. These people should all be kicked in the dick, and the guy who was buried should be kicked twice. He had a shovel and transceiver but choose to go with a bunch of ill equipped rock brains.
They forget that some crisis is necessary to hone skill. "Near misses," those brief encounters with the reality of mortality, are great learning tools if properly approached. -Denali Climbers Guidebook

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Re: How not to travel in the BC

Postby RoanMtnMan » Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:46 pm

Actually for many the sport is about walking the line between greed and significant reward. My mother thinks i am the most dangerous person alive, but my climbing friends consider me tame. We all have different risk tolerances. I have said it before here. We admire Stech, Messner, House and others. But their main talent is taking more risk. So it makes it difficult for me to judge others.

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Re: How not to travel in the BC

Postby pills2619 » Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:55 pm

No you are not taking risks, you are just being stupid for being out there without proper recovery gear. I'm all for taking risks but this was just dumb. Imagine this if the skiers hands and face were not above the surface. It would have been a much different outcome.

And of course you can dance around what greed means to you as a skier all night long but the simple fact is when you get greedy with your risk taking you get dead. All those people who we admire are very calculated and understand that everything is calculated based on experience and confidence and a whole bunch of other stuff but if you listen to what they say they always talk about the mountain not letting them, the weather not turning. They knew when to stop.
They forget that some crisis is necessary to hone skill. "Near misses," those brief encounters with the reality of mortality, are great learning tools if properly approached. -Denali Climbers Guidebook

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