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damn tree wells . . .

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damn tree wells . . .

Postby rlshattuck » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:10 am

I've only watched this about five times now . . . glad I can't ski the trees. Comments?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jvEYzh_ ... r_embedded


anything I can learn from what they did right or wrong?
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Re: damn tree wells . . .

Postby MoapaPk » Fri Apr 22, 2011 2:29 am

I fell into a tree well once. I was BC skiing with a 50lb pack with an extender, which caught on a limb and flipped me over; I slid down into the well, upside-down. The big mistake I made was to release my pack waist belt before my shoulder straps; when I did, the pack slid down and pinned my arms. My bindings did not release at all (75 mm), so I was SOL until a friend came down and released them. I have to say that was a very scary experience.
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Re: damn tree wells . . .

Postby rlshattuck » Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:54 am

. . . but could you have actually gotten out of your shoulder straps first . . . The guy in this vid seems to just be a sardine, with not much room, if at all, to move.

years and years ago, I fell into a tree well, having bailed on the wrong side of the T-bar––should have gone to the right, back onto the ski slope, but no . . . went to the left, into the trees and hit a well. I hung there, like a bat, unaware that I could reach up and release the binding . . . I was very lucky for the observant ski patrol guy, wondering why tracks went off into the trees.
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Re: damn tree wells . . .

Postby The Chief » Fri Apr 22, 2011 5:21 am

We have had two fatalities on the Hill over the past two seasons due this scenario. Both victims weren't found for at least three days. They were out on their own.

Sad deal.


This video shows exactly why you should NEVER go out alone and how EVERYONE in the party should carry a shovel, probe and beacon.... EVERYONE!
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Re: damn tree wells . . .

Postby Greg Enright » Fri Apr 22, 2011 6:25 am

That rescue took waaay longer with my slow internet connection.

Watched my wife pluck her nephew out of a tree well just after he fell in head first. Good thing she was there to see him go under.

The first part of that video is so fun. Gliding through the trees, you can almost feel the skis floating. Then the skier comes upon the buried skier and it takes a while to realize just how hard it is to pull someone out of such a deep hole. It's not like you can just did your heels in and pull. But, they got the skier out and that's what counts. Good job.

I was taught to hold onto the poles without straps when skiing trees, so when the pole gets caught in branches, your arm doesn't get ripped off. It's a little thing, but might also make it a little easier to use your hands when inverted in a tree well.
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Re: damn tree wells . . .

Postby dskoon » Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:02 pm

A skier went missing and was never found up at Crystal Mounain, Wa., a couple of months ago. He was a local who knew the area well, but speculation and consensus is that while skiing solo, he fell into a tree well and was buried by the ensuing small powder avalanche. This occurred, I believe, after many days of new snow. Patrol and volunteers searched for a week or more, but weren't successful. Very sad.
Certainly makes me more aware of skiing solo, esp powder tree skiing. Crystal's new tagline on their web paged warned: "Stay away from tree wells. Ski with a buddy and keep them in sight." Good advice on big powder days.
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Re: damn tree wells . . .

Postby MoapaPk » Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:37 pm

rlshattuck wrote:. . . but could you have actually gotten out of your shoulder straps first . . . The guy in this vid seems to just be a sardine, with not much room, if at all, to move.


Yes- It was an "old" frame pack with release buckles. Here's the equivalent buckle on a "modern" pack. Even when your arms are pinned fairly close to your body, you can reach these buckles. If you are with partners (not way downslope already!) in loose powder, you may not want to do anything.
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Re: damn tree wells . . .

Postby MoapaPk » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:57 am

telewoman wrote:This happened last month at our local ski park. Very lucky and happy guy.
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/ ... 8#42319088

I sure hope that he can sue someone.
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Re: damn tree wells . . .

Postby T Sharp » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:46 am

2 fatalities at Big Mountain MT this year....skiing alone and fell into tree wells...
that guy in the video was very lucky indeed...
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Re: damn tree wells . . .

Postby mconnell » Sun Apr 24, 2011 3:16 am

The Chief wrote:We have had two fatalities on the Hill over the past two seasons due this scenario. Both victims weren't found for at least three days. They were out on their own.

Sad deal.


This video shows exactly why you should NEVER go out alone and how EVERYONE in the party should carry a shovel, probe and beacon.... EVERYONE!


And Aaron Ralston's story shows exactly why you should never go for a walk alone and why everyone in the party should carry pry bars and explosives.

Bottom line is we all take risks. Many people will solo climb stuff I wouldn't touch (I believe The Chief is just such a person). I personally ski alone almost all the time. I skied once with another person this season, all other trips were solo. It's all about what risks we feel comfortable taking.
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Re: damn tree wells . . .

Postby brokesomeribs » Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:41 am

rlshattuck wrote:anything I can learn from what they did right or wrong?


I can't think of much I would have done differently from a mid-rescue standpoint. They were lucky they had that much manpower immediately available. Imagine if it was just you alone trying to dig out your partner.

A couple general lessons I can see from the video:

1) I don't think I saw more than 1 or 2 shovels in use. WTF? There were at least 5-6 people standing around. Every single person skiing the backcountry needs to have an easily accessible shovel (and beacon + probe). They were dicking around for way too long trying to find/assemble/use shovels. Seconds count in a burial, seriously. All my backcountry packs have an external shovel pocket - you just undo 2 buckles, pull out the shovel, and extend the handle. That's it.

2) Unless you're in the (unlikely) scenario where you have multiple burly guys to pull a burial victim out, you're gonna have to dig. They got started pretty quickly, but the guy was digging kinda slow. With that kind of manpower, the guy with the shovel should have been digging so fast that he got tired in 6-90 seconds and passed the shovel on to someone else while he caught his breath. But props to them for assigning someone to clear away all the freshly dug snow - that makes everyone's life easier.

3) You notice that the camera man was annoyed by wearing his pack, but didn't take it off until the rescue was well under way... counter-intuitively, that's actually a good habit to be in (even though it applies more to avalanche rescues). If you see someone get buried, your first instinct is to take your pack off so you can search faster... but think about it, if you drop your pack, by the time you finally are standing over the victim, your shovel/probe/warm clothing/first aid equipment are all still tucked away in your backpack far off and you have to run back, get the pack, return to the burial site, etc. Keep your pack with you!

4) In the video the victim was buried pretty deep - almost out of reach. I'm not positive, but it looked like he might have even been sinking deeper. They probably weren't carrying crevasse gear, but with all the trees around, it would have been VERY simple to tie a hitch his ankle and then build a 3:1 off two nearby trees to haul him out, or at least prevent him from sinking. In this case, it was certainly quicker to dig him out based on his specific burial conditions, available manpower, etc, but it's worth thinking about as something to have in your bag of tricks.

5) This video makes a good argument for wearing one of these newfangled ultralight ski-mountaineering harnesses all the time when BC skiing. They weigh maybe 10oz/300g? Anyone with half a brain wears one on glaciated terrain, so why not wear one in the trees? It would certainly make getting pulled out a lot easier. It gives your potential rescuers a full strength haul point instead of trying to grab wet clothing, slick ski boots, etc.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head - would love to hear more thoughts or responses.
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Re: damn tree wells . . .

Postby mconnell » Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:51 am

My thought was that they spent their time digging in the wrong place. The made it easy for them to get to the guy, but why weren't they digging out his head. It was pretty clear where he was, so they probably weren't going to nail him in the head with the shovel if the started in from a foot or so away from where his head was.
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