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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
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    8

    Questions about BC/avalanche gear

    I just moved to Park City last fall. I'm skiing more than I ever have in my life (yea!). Right now it's mostly resort, but I do often ski trees and go through the gate to access chutes, bowls, steeps. I've realized that this is not smart without the proper gear and education. So I'm currently taking the Know Before You Go course online, and I've signed up for the 3-day AIARE 1 course locally in Park City in a few weeks.

    In the meantime, I'd like to start getting the necessary gear. In addition to a beacon, shovel, and probe, I'd also like to get both an airbag (probably the Black Diamond Jet Force Pro) and an avalung. From what I've read, airbags are best in most conditions, with the exception of trees, where an avalung might be better if I were to fall into a tree well.

    I saw the Black Diamond Avalung II Sling, which looks like it could be worn at the same time as an airbag pack. But it seems to be out of stock everywhere, which makes me wonder if it has been discontinued?

    I read on another thread here that it's difficult (and maybe even not recommended) to have both an avalung and airbag on at the same time. This is a bummer as there are definitely days where I find myself in trees (where the avalung would be better?) and also in chutes, bowls, open steeps (where the airbag would be better)?

    Just wondering how you all approach this. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    13,671
    You are on the right track.
    Ooof!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Methow Valley
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    949
    To echo Bunion you've got the right idea about much of that. Keep in mind if you do get buried none of your gear will do much good if you aren't skiing with someone else that's got the skills/gear as well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
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    8
    Quote Originally Posted by John_B View Post
    To echo Bunion you've got the right idea about much of that. Keep in mind if you do get buried none of your gear will do much good if you aren't skiing with someone else that's got the skills/gear as well.
    Yeah, I'm coming to terms with this. I love to ski alone, and it's often hard for me to find someone to go with that is at a similar ability level and likes the same terrain. I should probably stop going through the gates by myself.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    You're on the right track, take the class, get the basic gear (beacon/shovel/probe). Importantly, your partners need the same.

    Avalung: you are correct that this has been discontinued. If you can find one, they do work well for what they are designed to do - allow you to breathe longer while buried. There are some important caveats here. First, it only works if you have it in your mouth when you get buried. This means you either need to ski with it in your mouth or hope that you can successfully insert it in the milliseconds you'll have if you get caught in an avalanche. They also do nothing to protect you from trauma, so I question whether they are "better" in trees. Approximately 1/4 of avalanche victims die from trauma (likely a little higher in thinner interior snowpacks) and trees are a common source of trauma. When made, you could buy them as a standalone sling that worked with any pack, or integrated into a pack. The integrated ones never included both airbags and avalungs.

    Airbag: these also work pretty well for their purpose, which is to make it less likely that you are buried if you get caught in an avalanche. Again, important caveats. First, an airbag may do something to protect you from trauma, but this is not scientifically proven to my knowledge, and in any event, airbags don't work if they get punctured. They are also less effective if you are caught low on a slope or not carried very far, or are above a terrain trap. It is still very possible to be buried while wearing an airbag.

    Using both: some people have done this, I would question anyone's ability to both insert their avalung and pull their airbag, or decide which one to do, in the chaos that is being caught and carried in an avalanche. I have personally decided that the airbag is the more versatile tool and is what I personally carry.

    The bottom line with this gear though is that it may help your chances of survival, but none of it comes remotely close to guaranteeing survival. By far the most important tool you can carry is your brain, and make good decisions that prevent you from being caught to begin with.
    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    All ye punterz! Leave thine stupid heavy skis in the past, or at least in the resort category, for the age of lightweight pussy sticks is upon us! Behold! Keep up with the randocommandos on their carbon blades of shortness! Break thine tibias into spiral splinters with pintech extravagance!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Tahoe
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    Quote Originally Posted by switters1974 View Post
    Yeah, I'm coming to terms with this. I love to ski alone, and it's often hard for me to find someone to go with that is at a similar ability level and likes the same terrain. I should probably stop going through the gates by myself.
    Nah you're all good. if you're in the Park City area they have an avalanche professional stationed under most of the gates to help you out. This is one of them here.




    and just to make things more complicated, if you go last, you're basically skiing alone anyway
    powdork.com - new and improved, with 20% more dork.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by powdork View Post



    and just to make things more complicated, if you go last, you're basically skiing alone anyway

    That’s why I don’t own a pack and shovel.
    Only a beacon.
    That way I always go first.

    But lately I have a harder time finding touring partners
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”
    Hunter S. Thompson

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Posts
    8
    This guy wasn't so lucky.

    Snowboarder died on 12/15 after going through the gate off the 9990 chair at PCMR. He had no beacon or avalanche gear, but not sure if that would have made a difference since he was alone.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
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    8
    Quote Originally Posted by Core Shot View Post
    That’s why I don’t own a pack and shovel.
    Only a beacon.
    That way I always go first.

    But lately I have a harder time finding touring partners

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by switters1974 View Post
    This guy wasn't so lucky.

    Snowboarder died on 12/15 after going through the gate off the 9990 chair at PCMR. He had no beacon or avalanche gear, but not sure if that would have made a difference since he was alone.
    As the video I posted opens, you can still make out the outline of that slide on the right.
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
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    8
    Quote Originally Posted by powdork View Post
    As the video I posted opens, you can still make out the outline of that slide on the right.
    Right. From the little I already know, someone with avalanche training would have seen that recent slide while evaluating the run and decided it probably wasn't a good idea to go down right next to that?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Tahoe
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    Doubt it, what with rollovers and the distance and the fact that it was fairly buried by new snow. However, he should have known about the avalanche from reading reports. The snowboarder in the video said he had been riding there for 20 years but didn't know about the guy that died the prior week, and said he hadn't thought it was even steep enough to slide. He had no gear and definitely didn't knowbeforeyougo
    powdork.com - new and improved, with 20% more dork.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    I don't have much to add because everyone else has pretty much nailed it. Instead, a question for you, OP: is your handle related in any way to a Tom Robbins book?

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