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Importance of having a ski buddy in trees [a Beginner Zone thread]

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

As I got past the intermediate stage in recent years, having a good ski buddy became not just more fun but also the most sensible approach from a safety standpoint when I did trips to big mountains in the Rockies.  It is very important when skiing trees.  If you want to learn to ski in the trees, PLEASE read the info here:

 

http://www.deepsnowsafety.org/index.php/

 

What reminded me of importance of a ski buddy is this recent thread about a teen who fell into a tree well.  Lucky for her, she was seen and got help very soon after ending up buried with her skis barely visible.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/118088/found-a-girl-in-a-tree-well-front-side-at-vail-yesterday

 

Note, this did not happen in difficult terrain.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post
 

Sourdough is a lift right in the middle of Vail that serves exclusively green terrain (mostly it is used as a quick way to get up to Two Elk Lodge without skating out of the back bowls). There are some fun trees you can duck in and out of, but this is not beacon territory. 

 
post #2 of 15

Excellent post and reference marznc!

post #3 of 15

The importance of a ski partner crops up sometimes when you least expect.  Last year while skiing Lookout Pass I skied down the backside to the Freeway and stopped above the Interstate.  Stopped on a little ridge of snow and my right ski sunk into a hollow snow hole, flipping me over my right side upside down, head downhill and one ski tangled in a small tree.  My partner got me out of the tree without him I might still be there.  It turned out to be a Funny moment but without my partner it wouldn't have been too funny.

post #4 of 15
I don't know of the techniques of skiing trees, I just stay well balanced, make quick turns and smart decisions for finding sick paths through them. I dropped a small 5 ft rock, thought it was harmless, I landed it fine but I hit a huge sheet of undetected ice lost my edge and got knocked out. Good thing my friend was watching. Stick with a buddy.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

A reminder that before you start skiing trees, please learn about the dangers of tree wells.  Even with a ski buddy, things happen very fast if you get too close to one.  More common in the west, but can happen in the northeast as well.

 

http://www.deepsnowsafety.org/index.php/

 

This blog entry from Feb 2016 is about a father and tween son in Brundage, ID.  Luckily, the father was able to quickly locate and help his son when the boy ended up in a tree well.  I encourage you to watch the video.  You can tell how shaken both of them were by the experience.

 

http://mpora.com/skiing/escape-tree-well-footage-shows-skiers-swift-actions-saving-sons-life#J4TPpAxBcBlWSJWU.97

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

Here is a thread that is a first hand account about the rescue of a teen who fell into a tree well at Vail in Feb 2013.  She and her brother were skiing in a small stand of trees between two groomers.  He was waiting below and hiked back up when she didn't appear.  Lucky for her, she was seen and was helped by the OP very soon after ending up buried with her skis barely visible.  Ski Patrol was quick to respond after he called them by phone.  She skied down with her brother afterwards.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/118088/found-a-girl-in-a-tree-well-front-side-at-vail-yesterday

 

Note, this did not happen in difficult terrain.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post
 

Sourdough is a lift right in the middle of Vail that serves exclusively green terrain (mostly it is used as a quick way to get up to Two Elk Lodge without skating out of the back bowls). There are some fun trees you can duck in and out of, but this is not beacon territory. 

 
 

 

  Key posts by the OP (Opening Poster aka Thread Starter)

 

Quote: Post #1
Originally Posted by finnicky7 View Post
 

I was on the front side skiers right under the Sourdough lift in a small patch of trees yesterday around 1pm.  I was skiing by myself just tiring to find some of the last powder stashes.  I was nearing the end of the trees and saw out of the corner of my eye a pair of skis sticking out.  I hiked back to the tree and tried to free the skier with no luck, so I started digging and could not believe how buried she was.  By the time I cleared her airway she was blue and gasping.  All i could do was keep the snow off her.  She was alert and communicative, so I called ski patrol for help, they got there relatively quick.  They were as astonished as I was at the depth of this well.  The skier was completely buried to her boots.  They were able to dig a side hole and free her in about 15mins. 

 

She was a 17yr old girl who was skiing with her brother (who was in front and lost sight of her).  He waited at bottom of trees and hiked back up, but it was not an easy hike back to her (10-15mins).   By the time her arrived I was in the hole and had called SP.  

 

Ski patrol commented how the snow conditions at Vail are ripe for this type of accident, and that she was very lucky.  It was a really scary situation that ended happily.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by finnicky7 View Post
 

Absolutely was wind loaded/drifted this small section of tree is between two groomers.  The snow was REALLY deep in this section of trees.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by finnicky7 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by steverandomno View Post
 

finnicky7 - Qudos to you. When people come across something serious like this, you can never tell how they will respond. The immediacy and seriousness of the situation can be overwhelming. It sounds like you handled it very well. It sounds like ski patrol were good too. Out of interest, did you call them on your phone or did you have a radio or something? I wonder how many of us ski with a phone but never put the patrol number in our contacts?

I do have a fair amount of training, plus I work in pretty stressful environment (ATC), so I guess it all lined up for this event.  As for a phone I always carry mine, and Vail resorts has a ski patroler quick button, which allows you to pick resort, and emergency/non. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by finnicky7 View Post
 

Thank you to all who have posted positive comments as well as idea for awareness and prevention of dangerous situations.  This was truly a life changing event for me, and I hope build upon it to be a better person, and not take life for granted. In addition I personally plan to buddy up when skiing any thing close to hazardous terrain.  I think this was a wake up call for me in the sense of pushing a myself a little too hard with out any safety net.  There no guarantees in life, but a least give yourself a fighting chance.  Thanks Again!

 
post #7 of 15

I prefer skiing trees in a group of 3, if possible.  In a pair, it is too easy for the lead skier to ski away, or the tail skier to drop back, and one doesn't have a good idea what's happened to the other.  In a group of 3, it is easier for everyone to stay visible to at least one other.

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy View Post
 

I prefer skiing trees in a group of 3, if possible.  In a pair, it is too easy for the lead skier to ski away, or the tail skier to drop back, and one doesn't have a good idea what's happened to the other.  In a group of 3, it is easier for everyone to stay visible to at least one other.

 

Group of three is also best because if someone gets in trouble, that leaves one person to stay with the injured skier, and one person to go for help. 

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy View Post
 

I prefer skiing trees in a group of 3, if possible.  In a pair, it is too easy for the lead skier to ski away, or the tail skier to drop back, and one doesn't have a good idea what's happened to the other.  In a group of 3, it is easier for everyone to stay visible to at least one other.

 

Group of three is also best because if someone gets in trouble, that leaves one person to stay with the injured skier, and one person to go for help. 


I vaguely remember skiing signs saying that a group of three was "required" for tree skiing.  Might have been at Smuggs.

post #10 of 15
Required? Whoa. I prefer three, but I'd never get to ski trees with that requirement!
post #11 of 15
Quote:
 I don't know of the techniques of skiing trees, I just stay well balanced, make quick turns and smart decisions for finding sick paths through them

Don't look at the trees.  Look at the path between the trees.  Look past the gap and try to see if you want to ski through the gap set up for a right turn or a left turn.  Don't ski away from your buddy.  Let your buddy know that you don't want them to ski far from you.  Carry a whistle.  If you carry a beacon, buy the best beacon on the market for your buddy to carry to better find you.

post #12 of 15

I wear a whistle on a lanyard.  If you are concerned about tree wells-takes a lot of snow and spruce/fir trees-make sure you ski in close contact to each other.  Have a partner, but if that person has gone on hooting through the snow when you have gone down does no good.  See marznc first link in post 5; 72% had partners with them.

 

I stepped off my skis -supported into a treewell on the backside of Saddleback.  It was a very unusual circumstance in that the wind had blown a large snowfall over the mountain to the backside.  Never heard of another treewell incident, but sure it could happen in the right conditions where krumholtz is like I encountered..  So I suspect very limited places in the Northeast and nothing to be concerned about in trees.  There are other reasons for having partners in trees in the Northeast though so still a good idea.

post #13 of 15

Have a partner and:   If you can wear bright colors not black and dark colors much easier to see you in the trees.  Carry a whistle and your phone too.  If you ski the trees a lot always have a plan with your partner(s)  a collection point half way down, at the traverse etc., if two or more lof you enter the trees know where each is going and try to keep the same partner on L or R. Then if you get to the bottom or a traverse out you will know who should be on your L or R or in front on a traverse and who behind.

 

One long blast on whistle, I am ok put will be a little while, go on without me if you want.

 

rapid shortblasts, need help !

 

After 50 plus years of skiing last Feb lst I was leading two ladies thru their lst run in the trees at Silver Mt. Idaho.  I was stopping a lot and checking their progress and hit a tree.  Broken L wrist, limb puncture thru face, concussion etc. The lst lady behind me was a RN and stayed with me (said I was out for 6 minutes) the other lady got ski patrol.  Maybe a minute after I woke up my orthopedic doc I ski with say my skies sticking crossed in the snow and came down too.  This was real bad deal and without partners it would have been a lot worse.

 

Another consideration is always carry a small pocket knife with you.   Twice I have either witnessed or came up to an injured skier where I really needed the knife to cut away a  pant to find the bleeding spot and apply pressure.  Always carry a whistle, phone and knife.

post #14 of 15

Ditto on this. My aunt had a friend die in a tree well even when skiing as a group. Stop often and make sure everybody comes out together!

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by switchbird View Post
 

Ditto on this. My aunt had a friend die in a tree well even when skiing as a group. Stop often and make sure everybody comes out together!

 

 

One night about 15 yrs ago two boarders died in tree wells before we found them at Homewood both died of hypothermia.  Really sad skiing or riding alone is not a good thing.

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