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  1. #26
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    Nov 2009
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    So this might be a pointless thought/not feasible/adding unnecessary risk etc. I've never been caught in a tree well and don't really know how much room you have to wiggle around. Perhaps a whistle or carefully placed cellphone works just as well but could some sort of button be place on a backpack strap or somewhere it could be easily hit alerting your partners that you are caught in a tree well and they need to start searching for you. Perhaps it could be an add on to a beacon or something along those lines. Maybe even alert ski patrol (although you would need something to tell them where exactly you are). The biggest issue would be accidentally setting it off, which could probably be dealt with in a couple of ways. Maybe the idea sucks and a whistle is good enough or it wouldnt be feasible. Hopefully i'm not a bigger ranter/idiot than AKR
    Take everything you like seriously, except yourselves.

  2. #27
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    Mar 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by chatton18 View Post
    So this might be a pointless thought/not feasible/adding unnecessary risk etc. I've never been caught in a tree well and don't really know how much room you have to wiggle around. Perhaps a whistle or carefully placed cellphone works just as well but could some sort of button be place on a backpack strap or somewhere it could be easily hit alerting your partners that you are caught in a tree well and they need to start searching for you. Perhaps it could be an add on to a beacon or something along those lines. Maybe even alert ski patrol (although you would need something to tell them where exactly you are). The biggest issue would be accidentally setting it off, which could probably be dealt with in a couple of ways. Maybe the idea sucks and a whistle is good enough or it wouldnt be feasible. Hopefully i'm not a bigger ranter/idiot than AKR
    Two types of tree well scenarios: Those that you slide into feet/body first and the evidently far more dangerous ones where you basically face-plant into the well. I've only been in those two feet first ones. In those it is/was not an immersion scenario, so if lucky and you're not bound up in lower tree limbs, you may indeed have use of your hands....I sure as hell did....but not the manueverability to reach pockets/zippers in a pack. In that case, your pack-strap "emergency call" button would be feasible.

    I actually think the majority of tree well scenarios that you DON'T hear about on the news are the less dangerous feet first type....probably MOST of us have been in those at one time or another. I've been in countless much smaller ones snowshoeing in heavy woods after heavy snow dumps. It those 'head-first' suffocation tree well fatalities that make the news, though. But I don't think those 'head-firsters' are the norm.

    If "head-first" type of scenario, then you're shit-out-of-luck. I've pitched headfirst into deep pow wearing a pack after slipping from a stomp trail....if it wasn't my buddies behind me digging me out, I would of died for sure. Other time was as a hyper-kinetic 10 yr old diving into high snow drift from a roof. Case like that, the only thing that's going to bail your ass is digging from a partner...there is no self-rescue if you head-plant into a tree well.

    So, two things:

    1)keep your cell/air horn/whistle/whatever accessible in your FRONT chest pocket.

    2)KEEP YOUR PARTNER IN SIGHT WHEN IN THE TREES. If partner behind you, turn your head on occasion and make sure he's still there. Don't lose yourself in the euphoria of tree skiing/riding.

    --
    "The reason death sticks so closely to life isn't biological necessity - it's envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it; a jealous, possesive love that grabs at what it can." by Yann Martel from Life of Pi



    Posted by DJSapp:
    "Squirrels are rats with good PR."

  3. #28
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Missoula, MT
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    93
    AKR.....maybe you should post longer, more in-depth initial responses so you won't have to keep coming back to explain your logic.

  4. #29
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Somewhere In Time
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    837
    I had my first legit tree well incident this past Saturday cat skiing at Revy's operation. Second to last run of the day, last day of six days straight, legs tired, probably skiing to fast. Snow was beyond bomber, but I suppose that added to the problem. I came to a stop after jamming on the brakes and did one of those slow-mo tipovers (that must of looked stupid, haha) and fell into a tree well, uphill side. I was swallowed immediately, basically on my back upside down, fairly immobile. I moved a little to gauge my position and knocked a bunch of snow and it covered my face. So...I bit onto my Avalung and just chilled, catching my breath. My buddy found me, but he said it was weird...like I completely disappeared after going around the corner. He finally saw the very tips of my ski tails under the tree...that was the only clue. Damn thing ate me up quickly. He managed to get my skis off, then in a fit of comedy/tragedy fell backwards into an adjacent one. Another skier helped pull him out, then our tail guide arrived and pulled me out.

    A few reflections. First, I never felt panicked with the Avalung. $115 well spent, worked as advertised. Had I been alone I would have had to get very crafty. There were many low branches restricting my arm movement. But assuming I could conserve energy I believe I could have broken enough of them to eventually get myself out. I still had my poles in my hands and could have reached my bindings, etc. This is ALL hindsight of course right? Totally 20/20 bullshit, I know.

    The tail guide pulled me out easy enough, was way calm/cool. Said I did a perfect job with my Avalung, etc. Everyone was fairly light-hearted about what might have otherwise been a trainwreck situation. But we were playing "smart" overall. Skiing in pairs, etc. I was the only one with an Avalung that day though. In fact, only one I saw anywhere that whole week come to think of it. I saw one for sale, but they must not be popular there. I'm Colorado normally, and snow totals in Revy are probably three times...so I thought I might see more.

    Anyway, happy ending and some lessons learned and reaffirmed. My two cents.

  5. #30
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    BC
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    690
    A male snowboarder was found dead on Blackcomb Mountain earlier today in what Whistler RCMP are describing as a "tragic incident." The individual was discovered upside down in a tree well at around 11 a.m. in-bounds in the 7th Heaven area.
    Nore of an RIP than a close call. Sorry to hear.

    http://www.whistlerquestion.com/arti...d-on-blackcomb

  6. #31
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    Feb 2010
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    north aspect
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    what do you think rover, got some insight?

  7. #32
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    Mar 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by flowing alpy View Post
    what do you think rover, got some insight?
    Sure.

    Tree wells:

    Upside-down = Dead or nearly.

    Right-side up = Alive.

    --
    "The reason death sticks so closely to life isn't biological necessity - it's envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it; a jealous, possesive love that grabs at what it can." by Yann Martel from Life of Pi



    Posted by DJSapp:
    "Squirrels are rats with good PR."

  8. #33
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    BC, Canada
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    338
    The sound dampening of snow amazes me again and again, i haven't been caught in a tree well, but if its anything like being even in the open, 50x50cm entrance tunnel of a snow cave, then i wander about the effectiveness of whistles, sonic blasters etc. Can anybody provide insight? would take some uncomfortable testing. Best bet seems to be to take your normal avy kit even on inbounds tree days and ski with a buddy.

    I wouldn't be waxing on about the safety of different quadrants of trees in any case, plenty of people read these forums and you can't expect inbounds skiers googling around to know any better and take stuff with a grain of salt.

  9. #34
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    420
    What are people's thoughts about deploying an airbag if stuck in a tree well? Would it only make the situation worse?

    Now that airbag packs are becoming more common, there are simply going to be fewer avalungs out there.

  10. #35
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Coastal Range
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    86
    Quote Originally Posted by Skeeze View Post
    What are people's thoughts about deploying an airbag if stuck in a tree well? Would it only make the situation worse?

    Now that airbag packs are becoming more common, there are simply going to be fewer avalungs out there.
    I bet an Avalung would be the only thing that would help. - other than a ski partner(s).
    when you really, really need to slap someone, just do it, and then yell, "Mosquito!"

  11. #36
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Vail
    Posts
    31
    Both times I have fallen into tree wells, I fell in head first. Luckily both times I was saved by lower tree branches. The first time I was 13, skiing the challenge trees in Vail in a foot of new snow. This was in the days of skinny skis, I ended up catching a tip and being thrown forward landing face down. I ended up getting buried, fortunately it was super blower snow which did not really consolidate around me and the branches on the tree were well spaced, so I was able to pull my self back up right. The second time, I was 24, I hooked a tip in Pete's stash and got spun around almost coming to a stop before falling backwards into the tree well. This time I got lucky in that the branches on this tree were super thick and were able to support my weight, meaning I didn't go down very far into the well. Both were scary experiences and after the second incident, when I was skiing by myself, I have been much more diligent in making sure I have a partner if I am skiing in the trees, especially on powder days and/or if we are going into the deeper trees and making sure the group watches out for each other when in the trees.

  12. #37
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    338
    sure this has been posted before, but re avalungs in tree wells. https://www.blackdiamondequipment.co...alung-ii-sling

    Airbag seems to me to not be a good idea, it would compact snow in front of your face as it pushed you forwards and speed up any asphyxiation. Would prefer traditional avvy gear.

  13. #38
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    Jun 2009
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    BC
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tutuko View Post
    sure this has been posted before, but re avalungs in tree wells. https://www.blackdiamondequipment.co...alung-ii-sling

    Airbag seems to me to not be a good idea, it would compact snow in front of your face as it pushed you forwards and speed up any asphyxiation. Would prefer traditional avvy gear.
    Was reading your link post and noticed:

    So far this year, two people have died at the Big Mountain Ski area due to tree well entrapments. I was almost another victim last Friday January 7th, 2011.
    Whitefish Mountain (Big Mountain) was also the same place I fell into my first treewell. Not sure if it was a 'tree-well', probably a 'tree-cone'. It was more of a 'slide' than 'fall' since the tree well area was cone shaped and very wide and deep. I had on my old 210 cm K2 Extreme's and as I got near the trunk area the skis spanned the snow area and I was left standing on my skis looking down a metre or so to where I might have ended. I maneuvered myself around, clicked out of my bindings and boot-packed my way out. Boot-packing out of a cone of fluffy snow was not so easy. A fun experience for me, deadly for other similar situations.

    What is disturbing, crap on the resorts management, is that I --Ontario Baby -- had never ever known about tree-wells until that incident many years ago. There should be a waiver about treewells that they make ticket holders sign. Not some fine print, but a full blown picture brochure outlining what they are all about, what to do, etc. ... and make them sign it and give them a copy to take with their pass.

    A death every season at Whistler from treewells, often tourists who know nothing of them, is a shame.

    Ask an East Coast or European skier what a tree-well is: "Huh, What zat?"
    Last edited by canwilf; 04-05-2012 at 07:04 PM. Reason: bad speeling

  14. #39
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    Jun 2009
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  15. #40
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    Sep 2010
    Location
    Innsbruck, Austria
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    European skier what a tree-well is: "Huh, What zat?"
    Thats ignorant. We have them too. Fell into my first one when I was 9 with a snowboard on. Not head first though but had a hard time getting my board off and I eventually had to slowly chip steps out.

    I went into one backwards this year cause we had a lot of snow down low. People know what they are but our tourists are just as ignorant as yours and shit even the local bois tour no beacon no probe no shovel. U have 2 types of euro backcourty skiers man. The new fangled ABS/Snowpulse probe, beacon, shovel norrona one piece fangle dangle and the ghetto bad ass dudes on silveretta 404's, 160 cm skinnies and home knitted beanies wearing the underwear they got in the bundesherr skiing gnar like this without looking back.





    On another hand we deal with wholly different things in high alpine situations where tourists are more enticed to go exploring on mellow open terrain that can quickly turn into heavy stuff.

    If you cant swim and go on a beach holiday then stay in the shallow end go out till you cant stand anymore. Same rule applies to skiing the darwin awards exist for a reason.

  16. #41
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    Jun 2009
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    BC
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    690
    ^^
    European skier what a tree-well is: "Huh, What zat?"
    Thats ignorant. We have them too.

    My appologies. I thought it was more of a pacific coast tree skiing phenomenom. Just like we don't have a lot of crevases on our ski resorts because they are not on glaciers.

  17. #42
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    Mar 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by sqikunst View Post




    If you cant swim and go on a beach holiday then stay in the shallow end go out till you cant stand anymore. Same rule applies to skiing the darwin awards exist for a reason.
    Yes....my sentiments exactly.

    As to tree wells, any place with trees CAN have the possibility of tree wells, if there is enough snow....even the northeast can have them during winters of big snow dumps.

    Is that the Italian Dolomites, by any chance? It's been a great while (since I was a little kid) since I've been to them, but those jagged peaks sure seem familiar.

    --
    "The reason death sticks so closely to life isn't biological necessity - it's envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it; a jealous, possesive love that grabs at what it can." by Yann Martel from Life of Pi



    Posted by DJSapp:
    "Squirrels are rats with good PR."

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