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Excellent Tree Well Save Video - Page 2

post #31 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post

I posted about my personal experience with a tree well in 2006.  I'll never forget the feeling of snow blocking my airway, making getting a breath impossible, and the helpless feeling of being upside down in bottomless snow.  I was able to clear breathing space and staying quiet avoid more snow collapsing from above.  I can assure you no one could have stood in that soft powder and hauled my out by my ankles, but having my skis released by my partners, allowed me to pivot my feet below my waist holding branches to support my upper body, then climb back out.

 

This video really shows the importance of a buddy system, but remember that you need to wait at short intervals to be sure everyone clears the area, including the guy in back.  If you leave him far behind, you'll never climb back fast enough to do a rescue.  I'd suggest that the guy with rescue gear was the most experienced skier, sweeping the group, and was in the right position to help as a result of advance preparation and backcountry training.  His preparedness and awareness were no accident. 


I've never been caught in a tree well but did get caught facing down hill in a deep wind drift. I simply could not get myself upright and the slough completely buried my head, and I took in a bunch of snow down my airway. It is a freaky experience when you try to breathe, and find yourself choking.

 

As far as people skiing in the BC w/o proper avy gear, I just don't understand that mentality. I see it all the time though. Even side country skiing. I make a point every preseason to practice assembly of my shovel and probe, and to check that they are in good working condition. I have always had the mindset, that I am responsible for my own avy gear, the correct use of it, and to train with it. That includes beacon search training. I don't know how you accidentaly become preprared.

 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by catskills View Post

I agree with Bob Peter's excellent critique of the event. I would just add a few more comments.

 

As a 15 year ski patroller, volunteer EMT-B firemen, and captain of the local rescue squad I have been involved in similar life and death situations countless of times.  Some times it goes smooth as silk and sometimes the rescuers for what ever reason are just not communicating very well. Worst case is they can't agree and two people are arguing over who is in control.     As Bob mentioned POV guy took control of the situation.  This is probably the best thing that happened here.  You need one person in charge.  Can you imagine if nobody took control and everyone was just wondering what to next.   Believe it or not it happens and usually on the worst calls.  Its kind of like deer in the headlights syndrome.   POV guy took control which was great.  The other people should have been doing more.  When you are NOT in charge you got to be thinking about all the other stuff the person in charge is NOT thinking about and just start doing what obviously needs to be done.  Like moving skis and poles out of the way, blowing a whistle for more help,  or telling the person in charge I got a shovel and I am digging right here now.  Then you dig your brains out until you can't dig anymore.

 

As Bob said,  POV guy grabbing the guys boots was also an excellent first response.  As we say in the EMS business, airway, airway, airway is your second responsibility.  No airway and patients don't live very long.  Grabbing boots and telling the person to stop moving helped ensure he had an open and clear airway. 

 

Notice I said airway is second responsibility.  What is the first responsibility?  First responsibility would be scene safety.  If you were only two people and the first responder attempts to save his partner in the tree well and he gets stuck in the tree well then you both die. 

 

I can tell you the very best emergency calls are with people I have trained together with in more drills  than I care to count.  On a real call there is absolutely  no talking.  That's right no talking.  Why you may ask.  Because there is no need to talk.  Everyone is moving 110% speed.  and doing all the things that need to be done without communicating.   Those are the best of the best calls.  It doesn't happen very often like that but when it does you talk after the call and everyone says WOW that was a good call.     Given this situation in this video,  POV guy took control was a good thing and he did a pretty good job communicating and managing the scene.  



 

post #32 of 69

wow, assuming that was not staged i have a new respect for tree wells.  i usually let my other less exp friends go first, maybe now i should try to steal the good first.  what would be the first tip in prolonging life if your going in headfirst?... try to form a bubble with your elbows and hands?  also that looks like he took a perfect highdive into that well.  glad everyone in these vids is ok

post #33 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post

I posted about my personal experience with a tree well in 2006.  I'll never forget the feeling of snow blocking my airway, making getting a breath impossible, and the helpless feeling of being upside down in bottomless snow.  I was able to clear breathing space and staying quiet avoid more snow collapsing from above.  I can assure you no one could have stood in that soft powder and hauled my out by my ankles, but having my skis released by my partners, allowed me to pivot my feet below my waist holding branches to support my upper body, then climb back out.

 

This video really shows the importance of a buddy system, but remember that you need to wait at short intervals to be sure everyone clears the area, including the guy in back.  If you leave him far behind, you'll never climb back fast enough to do a rescue.  I'd suggest that the guy with rescue gear was the most experienced skier, sweeping the group, and was in the right position to help as a result of advance preparation and backcountry training.  His preparedness and awareness were no accident. 

All that other video with the guy being swallowed by the tree needs is a burp!eek.gif

 

 

When was the last time you (not you Cirquerider, but you readers) were hanging upside down from your bindings and were able to do an inverted sit up and release the bindings?  I remember doing exactly that about 25 years ago.  I still do lot's of core exercises and reaching the bindings is no problem, but my new bindings are a lot harder to release.  My old Tyrolia 490's released easily with a simple pull; I have to push down HARD on the new ones.  Branches can be substantial enough to make a tree well, but not strong enough to climb.  Don't lose the skis,;you can climb on 'em.
 

 

post #34 of 69

Great video and very helpful analysis by Bob Peters and other experienced responders. Thanks for posting!

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tog View Post

So what's the rule of thumb for skiing near trees?  Is there a certain distance away?

 


I'll defer to more experienced powder country skiers on the safe distance question, though logic and my occasional observations suggest that the circumference of the branches (the drip line, in gardening terms) determines the circumference of the actual well. Of course the snow just outside the well, being unsupported on the tree side, may be unstable and prone to collapsing. Leaving a safety margin seems prudent.

 

Helmet and goggles on at all times of course, a stick in the eye will ruin more than your day. And never ski alone, as the video makes very obvious.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tog View Post

Also, looks like pole straps may be a bad idea.  If the pole gets buried and the strap is attached you won't be able to move your hand.

 

 

Pole straps should always be removed when skiing in the trees, for the reason you stated and also to avoid getting yanked should a pole basket snag on a limb.

 

OT, but another place to remove pole straps is on uber-steep terrain where a fall could result in an uncontrollable slide into something dangerous. Having your straps off makes a ski-pole self-arrest easier and more effective. That's a move anyone venturing onto serious terrain needs to rehearse. Learn as you go isn't the best option when your're sliding toward the rocks.

 

***

Eastern skiers are not immune to tree wells. I once slid into one from... wait for it... a wide open bump run at Killington. Flubbed a turn, went over the handlebars and slid headfirst right off the trail. Ended up hanging head down in the well from my skis, which were well and truly tangled in the branches.

 

I was skiing solo (on an open slope, who'da thunk twice?) and no one saw me go in. It took quite a while just to get my pole straps off so I could do anything. Then it was a real struggle to do upside-down pullups with my legs to reach my bindings and release them - BONK!!! Thank you, helmet, for saving my head. There wasn't enough loose snow to smother a gerbil, but if I'd been truly trapped or knocked unconcious I might hung there 'til I froze. I felt like a chicken hanging in the bazaar, not fun.

 

post #35 of 69

After watching that video, I will now carry a shovel in bounds and at all times.

post #36 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bingers View Post

wow, assuming that was not staged i have a new respect for tree wells.  i usually let my other less exp friends go first, maybe now i should try to steal the good first.  what would be the first tip in prolonging life if your going in headfirst?... try to form a bubble with your elbows and hands?  also that looks like he took a perfect highdive into that well.  glad everyone in these vids is ok


A couple things you need to know. 

Tree wells are invisible when they are most hazardous.  They are an area within the light branches of a tree with extremely low density snow, and appears to be at the same level as all the snow around it.  Only after consolidation and melting do you see the classic hole around the tree.  In a good snow year, the trunk of the tree may be 15 feet below the surface.  All you see are light feathery branches weighed down by snow and and the upper tip of the tree.  It's the perfectly camouflaged trap.

 

The snow in a tree well is completely unconsolidated and light.  Any disturbance causes it to shift and it does not pack.  When a person falls in the snow tends to close in around them, and even enters their mouth and nose when they take a breath.  If they don't panic, they can eject that plug and if their hands are free (not strapped to poles), they might be able to keep an air-space.   There is lots of air in a tree-well and unlike avalanche burials, it is completely unconsolidated and continues to collapse, fill and sift through any void until it settles on a solid object (you).

 

Any attempt to self-extricate, or struggle or release your bindings (assuming you can do the inverted situp with a cocoon of snow and branches around you) will fill your precious air-space with another dose of choking dry powder. 

 

Tree wells suck to be in.  Just be aware that they are there during best lightest powder conditions, and don't bail out head-first anywhere near a tree.  In my opinion, the best piece of self-preservation equipment would be an Avalung, along with riding with experienced partners.  As long as you can maintain your airway, you have a shot at getting free or rescued.

 

post #37 of 69

Got a any links to Avalung?

post #38 of 69

I really have no idea, but this video made me think that some sort of winch that you could wrap around yourself, get a lot of leverage by hunkering down and leaning down the mountain, then tie around the very sturdy ski boots sticking out of the snow, turn it on and yank that fool outta there, might be a good thing.  Maybe just a more simply pulley system?  Just throwin' stuff out there.

post #39 of 69

You are correct, DouglySkiRight. You don't have to be in powder country out west to die in a tree well. Any eastern snowbelt area will do. Years ago, a buddy of mine fell awkwardly into a tree and ended up doubled over, upside down with only the bottoms of his XC skis showing. Luckily, he wasn't alone, we hauled him out fairly easily and all had a laugh and a beer. But he was truly stuck. Without help, he probably would have died. This happened in Ontario.

post #40 of 69

Last year there was definite tree well dangers in the woods.  This year it'd be tough to hide a squirrel.

post #41 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoeLarryCheese View Post

Got a any links to Avalung?



http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/shop/ski/avalung

 

post #42 of 69

Yeah! Avalung!

post #43 of 69
I wonder what would happen if you set off an airbag when head first in a tree well...
post #44 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by huhh View Post

I wonder what would happen if you set off an airbag when head first in a tree well...


 

Well, I guess we'd have to change your user name to "Dohh"! . snowfight.gif

post #45 of 69
 
Thursday, January 13, 2011

Skier survives headfirst tree-well entrapment thanks to his AvaLung II sling

Quote from: http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/journal/ski/knowledge/skier-survives-headfirst-treewell-entrapment-thanks-to-his-avalung-ii-sling

 

 


From: Pete Lev
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2011 10:23 AM
Subject: My Avalung II saved my life!


I am sending this to everyone I know who skis or boards. My hope is that it may save additional lives as it saved mine the other day.

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.

The snow has been piling up and getting deep. So as I do every year, I started to wear my AvaLung. I also had my pack with probe, shovel, etc. and had my transceiver turned on. Some people I know don't wear their gear in-bounds and think these areas are safe since ski-area personnel control them. But you can become entrapped in a tree well In-bounds just as easily as you can skiing out-of-bounds.

My wife & I were skiing an open area on a run called Evans Heavan. It was very foggy and we had decided to make this our last run due to the poor visibility and the newly fallen deep wet snow was starting to set up. I caught an edge and flipped over into a tree well. I landed with my head upside-down and slid down into a hole underneath the tree branches.

I did not have my AvaLung in my mouth but it was poised in position directly in front of my mouth. The impact from the snow pushed the mouthpiece out of position and I could not bite onto it. My ski poles had separated from my hands but there was 2 feet of snow between my face and hands. Snow had compacted in front of my face. The impact from the fall had knocked the air out of my lungs and as my body instinctively gasped for air, I swallowed a fair amount of snow and choked as I attempted to push the snow away from my face and to locate my AvaLung mouth piece. I located it and shoved it into my mouth, inhaled and got more snow into my lungs. Fortunately when I exhaled the snow blew out through the AvaLung and I started to breathe though the device.

After a minute or so my breathing started to regulate and I calmed down. I dug and pushed away the snow that was covering my goggles and looked around. There was a small air pocket in front of me underneath one of the tree branches. I wiggled and pulled my head and upper body underneath the branch.  I removed more snow that was covering my 2-way radio (strapped to my backpack cross chest strap) I removed the AvaLung mouthpiece and called on the two-way radio to my wife. She was only 50 feet from me and didn't know where I was. The thought of blowing the whistle that was in my chest pocket never came to mind, nor did using the siren feature on my radio. I guess even though you have all the gear, under stress, you may not use it properly in a panic situation.

My wife got the radio call and started to search for me. But she had not worn her transceiver that day. So she could not locate me. It was up to me to get myself out! Fortunately my skis were not too twisted up and were closer to the surface than the rest of me. I used the tree branches to pull myself toward the surface and kept punching a path upward. After a few minutes I had made a hole big enough to stick out my hand. My wife saw my waving hand and started to work her way uphill to help. The snow was deep and hard for her to step uphill. Before she made it to me I had managed to free myself. I was shaken and distraught. That night I had repeated nightmares of being trapped. It was a horrifying experience.

I am convinced that without that AvaLung II strapped on, I would not be writing this letter. Thank you to who ever invented that AvaLung and thank you Black Diamond for selling such a great piece of equipment. I soon plan on replacing the AvaLung II with one of the new AvaLung Packs.

I now ski with the AvaLung II's mouthpiece in my mouth whenever I am skiing in the trees or gladed areas, since I now know that if it isn't in your mouth, you might not be able locate it when you are disoriented. Here is a link to some additional tree well safety tips.
The article also gives you some great safety tips on how to ski with your partner or friends.
http://treewelldeepsnowsafety.com/

Again.... the AvaLung II saved my life. I will forever be grateful!

— Pete Lev,
Whitefish, MT

 

More tree well video. This is the last part of a guy who was stuck almost 30 minutes upside down.

 

                     theJdride                                                                       http://youtu.be/WzqcYLRNujE

post #46 of 69

So nobody thinks that a mini winch or perhaps a slick little pulley system that you could huck over a tree branch to yank someone out might be a good idea?  

post #47 of 69

I think weight, and power are an issue, and it is still not a self-rescue device. 

 

Tog, good find on the POV burial.

post #48 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by guroo270 View Post

So nobody thinks that a mini winch or perhaps a slick little pulley system that you could huck over a tree branch to yank someone out might be a good idea?  

Yes, it's a good idea.

 

This has a 5:1 advantage:

AZTEK_Elite_Pulley_System_Kit_Black_Bum_Bag_RRGKAZELITE_350.jpg

ZTEK Elite Pulley System Kit, Rope Access & Fall Protection
$305.00
RRGKAZ-ELITE

http://www.rescueresponse.com/store/aztek_omni_elite_pulleysystemkit.html

 

post #49 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post

I think weight, and power are an issue, and it is still not a self-rescue device. 

 

Tog, good find on the POV burial.


Well, every one of these videos that I've peaked at there were 4-5 people around, and they would be pulling them out the same way they went in, going through that loosened up snow.  What would a tree well self rescue device look like I wonder?  Outside of a suite that heats up to 200* melting snow around you quickly, or a reverse jet pack that would roast you I'm not sure what that would be.

 

post #50 of 69

I'm not really too keen with the notion of quickly and forcefully extracting someone by their boots/skis unless it is clear that they can't breathe at all.  They could have injured their neck or back in the fall.  You could ensure that they never ski again if you opt to drag them out by their feet instead of digging them out a little more carefully.  However, if they are completely unresponsive, jerking them out as soon as physically possible is probably prudent.  Can't walk>severe brain damage.

 

Still unbelievable how stuck that guy was.  Greg Luganis couldn't have dove in there any betterspit.gif

post #51 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by raytseng View Post

Did anyone else find it forced how the presenter tried to fit this scenario into a sales pitch for his team-building/teamwork course and company? 

 

I suppose improving teamwork skills will help you in many aspects of life, but it doesn't follow that a video of random event of life is showing great team-building/teamwork. 


Yes, it was gross and disgusting...he's a man whore.

 

post #52 of 69

 

Treewell:

treediagram.png

 

From: http://www.treewelldeepsnowsafety.com

 

It is critical to ski or ride with a partner who remains in visual contact with you at all times. If you and your partner choose to ski or snowboard in ungroomed areas your partner must:
 

Always stay in visual contact so that they can see you if you fall. Visual contact (See photos # 1-3) means stopping and watching your partner descend at all times, then proceeding downhill while he or she watches you at all times. It does NO GOOD if your partner is waiting for you in lift line while you are riding down.

partner1.png

partner2.png

 

Stay close enough to either pull or dig you out. If you have any question about what "close enough" to assist someone in a tree well is, hold your breath while you are reading this. The amount of time before you need air may be how much time your partner has to pull or dig you out of danger. Other factors such as creating an air pocket or the position you fall in, may affect this critical timeframe.

 

Remember, if you lose visual contact with your partner you could lose your friend. It is important to know that most people who have died in deep snow or tree well accidents had been skiing or riding with "partners" at the time of their accident. Unfortunately, none of these partners were in visual contact so they were not able to be of help in a timely manner.

There have also been many cases WHERE PARTNERS HAVE RESCUED SOMEONE in a tree well or deep snow accident and SAVED THEIR LIFE!

 

DO NOT LEAVE TO GET HELP,
it will not arrive in time. Remember, if your partner is buried under the snow, time is of the essence and your quick actions to pull or dig them out are your partner's best hope for survival. In most cases, you are the only hope.

Yell for help, but stay there until you have recovered your partner. Make attempts to uncover the head first and help create an airway. When you uncover their head, make sure there is no snow in the mouth and that they can breathe.

 

http://www.treewelldeepsnowsafety.com/prevention1.php

 

post #53 of 69


 

Is it common that these accidents end up with a head first entry?  Why? What happens in a tree-well accident that results in a head first entry instead of going in skis first?

 

The videos are great examples of what to do if you're with a group.  What if it's just you and one other person?  How does one proceed in a rescue in that situation?

 

Scary stuff. 

post #54 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by billyymc View Post


 

Is it common that these accidents end up with a head first entry?  Why? What happens in a tree-well accident that results in a head first entry instead of going in skis first?

 

The videos are great examples of what to do if you're with a group.  What if it's just you and one other person?  How does one proceed in a rescue in that situation?

 

Scary stuff. 


What often happens is that you fall to the side just like a regular ski fall, but as you put your hands down to push yourself back up your arms post hole and all soft fluff collapses under your upper body slinging you down under your skis leaving you hanging by them.  It can help to make a cross with your ski poles to push off of when getting back up in deep soft snow, but tree wells are even softer, much like a Wylie Coyote trap, only seriously deadly.  Keep a whistle around your neck and try to ski with others, even ask someone on the lift to ski with/watch eachother if you're on a solo trip if that's what you have to do to be safe.

 

post #55 of 69

Well here's another video. It's not a deep one, but he sort of falls backwards trying to get through the trees. I think that's why head down is normal - the snow collapses and you fall to side or back.

Fall in occurs after 2:20  He's lucky he had room to move around.  Took 4 minutes to get out and he was able to remove bindings himself.

 

emmathesleepy                                                    http://youtu.be/19ZciQm_I7M

post #56 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by billyymc View Post


 

Is it common that these accidents end up with a head first entry?  Why? What happens in a tree-well accident that results in a head first entry instead of going in skis first?

 

The videos are great examples of what to do if you're with a group.  What if it's just you and one other person?  How does one proceed in a rescue in that situation?

 

Scary stuff. 


I think part of it is that head-first entries are the ones we mostly hear about.  They're the ones that end up with the victim becoming either scared sh**less or deceased. 

 

There's probably a tiny bit of a tendency for the rider to catch a ski/board on a submerged branch, which would then pitch the rider forward into the tree well and end up with a head-down burial, but I think there are probably a fair number of tree well incidents that involve a feet-first launch into the branches.  Those are inconvenient but not life-threatening and we probably never hear about them.

 

I've had one tree-well incident and it absolutely terrified me.  It was at Grand Targhee probably 25 years ago during a heavy snowstorm.  I never did know why I fell, but I did and launched myself head-first under a great big spruce tree.  I ended up head-down with my skis still on and snow filtering down around my face.  I don't wear pole straps, and LUCKILY I had lost both poles and my hands ended up below and in front of me.  I immediately inhaled enough snow to cut off my air, which made me instantly panic.  Just by luck, I was able to spit the snow out and get one hand up to my mouth.  Snow was coming down whenever I moved, but again I was lucky enough to be able to push it away with my hand.  I was skiing by myself in a blizzard and I knew there was nobody to help me out.  My head was below my feet but I wasn't hanging straight up and down.  When I calmed down slightly, I realized that I was able to lever myself upward off a tree branch with one hand and twist around just enough to reach one binding.  Once I released that, I could move a little better and was able to get to the other binding.  Once I released that one, I just started crawling/climbing through the branches and snow to get out.  I was breathing so hard by the time I got out of the clutches of that tree that it probably took me ten minutes to get my heartrate down and gather my gear back together. I honestly think that it was pure luck that I didn't end up further down or hopelessly wedged or instantly buried with snow or whatever. It was scariest thing that's ever happened to me on skis and I don't ever want to experience it again. 

 

As to what to do if your buddy gets caught, I don't know that there are good answers.  Every situation is different.  Keeping each other in sight is key, but of course that doesn't work very well if you're the one in back.  Try to stabilize your friend if you can.  Urge them not to struggle if you can communicate with them and they're still breathing.  If they ARE still breathing, try to assess the situation to see if you can help extricate them without causing more snow to cascade down around them.  If you can't get them out by yourself, yell for help(or whistle - do you carry one?).  Call ski patrol dispatch on your cell phone (did you program that into your cell phone when you decided to go to that resort?).

 

If you can't communicate with the victim, that probably means their mouth is covered with snow and they're already not breathing.  Now your ONLY course of action is to dig like hell and fight to get their face uncovered.  As fast as you can and any way you can.  Just remember, though, that there may be feet and feet of snow on the upper branches of that tree waiting to come down on both of you. Becoming a second victim doesn't help either.

 

 

 

post #57 of 69

And if you DO dive into a tree well, just hope one of these guys isn't hanging out in there minding his own business:

 

IMG_8479.jpg

 

edited to add one more shot:

 

IMG_8486.jpg

post #58 of 69

Nice thought Bob!  roflmao.gif

post #59 of 69

Makes sense now, how these end up head first.  The first time I ever really even heard of tree wells was about four or five years ago right before we were heading to Steamboat.  Someone had just died in a tree well there, I t hink in the Christmas tree bowl area. Lots of snow that year.  My trips west have lately been just my wife and myself - no way she'd ever be able to dig me out if I was in.  Next year we are planning to take our kids out there...good to be pre-armed with with at least enough knowledge to know when tree well danger is highest, and to have an idea how to minimize it and make sure you stay within sight.  

 

BTW, that original video - where did that take place? (I know it was BC, but didn't see where it was)

post #60 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post

And if you DO dive into a tree well, just hope one of these guys isn't hanging out in there minding his own business:

 

Or this guy?

 

                                                                                  http://youtu.be/O5gldxTmLsQ

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