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Avoiding treewells - Page 3

post #61 of 81

Had a Instructor & Sit-skier go tits up in a tree well last year during a storm. There were 2 other skiers blocking. It was a frightful experience for all involved. A clear head and fast moving response made for a everyone ok? smile.gif

post #62 of 81
Wait, wait...you plan on doing tree skiing alone?? Bad idea
post #63 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Generally  if I am truly bushwhacking in an area with little traffic, I am with at least two other people.  We stop and call out a LOT.  We are not charging, we are really watching out for each other.

 

I haven't read the whole thread, but this is some good and easy advice. When my wife and I are skiing trees, I like to hoop and holler a lot, not just because I'm having so much fun, but so she knows where I'm at, and so that skiers above me know I'm down below. Also second the whole not charging thing during these conditions. That alone will help a lot. I like to take it easy when in the trees.

 

If you don't have a ski partner, let alone one you can trust, then I suggest taking a private or advanced lesson and request a tree class. That way, you're at least armed with an instructor who knows what they're doing. I love my wife and all, but I've always found instructors to be the best ski partners of all. Always a blast, and infinitely safer than going it alone.

post #64 of 81
Amazing to me that in the one earlier video, it took a GROUP of individuals who are professionally trained to get one guy out. Could you imagine if it was just one buddy trying to figure out how to pull you out? Seems like no amount of training would ever save you if you went in alone.
post #65 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by swisstrader View Post

Wait, wait...you plan on doing tree skiing alone?? Bad idea


Yes, of course that's true, but how ya' gonna' do it? Example: Squaw is half trees. You don't ski the trees per se, you just ski, and trees are a part of most runs you take. So that would mean that you can't ski alone in terrain like this, can't ski alone at Squaw. Which is not a workable plan, thus my emphasis on staying out to begin with, which is not all that hard. Once you're in, you will lose consciousness so fast that  rescue is very unlikely, very, very unlikely, partner or not. remember, your partner would have to be in exactly the right position to help at all before you die.

 

Test yourself with drills before you spend a lot of time in deep steep trees. In an area with no risk, try the turns and smears you will need in the trees. If you get rotated, limiting what you can do in the turn, stay out of trees and work on keeping the upper body square and quiet. That is how you stay out of tree wells.

post #66 of 81

Making a general statement such as, "skiing in trees alone is a bad idea" overstates matters, kind of like saying "skiing alone is a bad idea." Under certain conditions tree wells are a threat, but under other conditions they are not. Knowing when and where to do it helps mitigate risk.

post #67 of 81

Here's the tree well that almost got me a couple years ago:

 

 

 

I was shaken up enough after extracting myself I took that pic so I would remember to be more careful.  

 

How did I get out?  Dumb luck.  I was upside down but facing the tree.  I think that gave me enough space and air to breath after blowing the packed snow out of my nose and mouth.  Prior to that I couldn't breathe, was panicking and thought I was a goner.  I was lucky I was facing the tree since I could use my arms to "climb" the tree upside down until the weight of my legs was high enough out of the snow it allowed me to flip upright.   

 

How did I get in?  Dumb skiing.  I was charging way too hard, and skiing alone.   I popped off the knoll by the sun spot in the upper right of the photo, aiming to ski right between the tree I got trapped in and the tree on lookers right.   It wasn't until I was air born that I realized there was a buried log in my LZ you can see in the lower right.   I tried to make a hard right turn to avoid the buried log, dug my tips in, double released, and flew over the handlebars headfirst into the tree well.

 

What am I doing differently now?  Trying not to be dumb, which is easier said than done.   I skied these same trees (Upper Enchanted Forrest at Copper Mountain) this Monday, the first day they opened this season.   It was very similar conditions.   I skied with two friends and didn't charge as hard.  Rather than the attitude of skiing faster because the powder will cushion falls, I try to think the powder could be my demise.  

 

Not charging hard in snow like this is easier said than done when you've got that giddy feeling and are squealing like the geico pig ripping up pow pow.   Skiing with competent friends all the time is also easier said than done, and your friends happening to be in a position to help you is to a large degree luck.   For these reasons and after reading more and more about the risk of tree wells, I'm going to pick up an avalung pack and have it in my mouth when skiing terrain like this.


Edited by tball - 3/7/13 at 3:18pm
post #68 of 81

^^^ Best advice ever. Great post. The best lessons I ever learned were after I screwed up too smile.gif  Know when to be bold and when to be safe.

post #69 of 81

I just bought myself an avalung pack for inbound use.   I think it's cheap insurance against tree well incidents like my tale above.  That picture still sends chills down my spine.   An avalung could have saved my life there if I wasn't able to extract myself.

 

Sierra Trading Post has great deals on Avalung packs right now.  Here's the one I got (you can get 30% off that already low price with the coupon code for today), so it came to a bit over $100 with shipping:

 

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/black-diamond-equipment-avalung-bandit-backpack-11l~p~2048p/

post #70 of 81
Thanks for the heads-up. Just got the Bandit pack there to supplement my large/older covert pack, which is sometimes a bit too much for lift riding.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post

I just bought myself an avalung pack for inbound use.   I think it's cheap insurance against tree well incidents like my tale above.  That picture still sends chills down my spine.   An avalung could have saved my life there if I wasn't able to extract myself.

Sierra Trading Post has great deals on Avalung packs right now.  Here's the one I got (you can get 30% off that already low price with the coupon code for today), so it came to a bit over $100 with shipping:

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/black-diamond-equipment-avalung-bandit-backpack-11l~p~2048p/
post #71 of 81

Here's a story from a guy who believes the Avalung saved him in a tree-well:

http://www.adventure-journal.com/2011/01/skier-survives-tree-well-thanks-to-avalung/

 

From my experience, I also believe you'll probably have use of your hands enough to get the Avalung into your mouth when upside down in a tree well.  The snow is very soft.  You risk making things worse and submerging deeper into the snow when struggling to free yourself .  Breathing through the Avalung first probably gives you the most hope of self-extraction, or surviving until found if you can't.

 

Here's the protocol I'm planning after looking into the use of an Avalung:

  1. Have the Avalung deployed whenever you are in tree-well risk area.   If it's zipped up in the pack it would be hard to access.  Have it in your mouth in very high risk situations.
  2. Don't use pole straps in tree-well risk areas!  They may tie your hands so you can't get to your Avalung, and you can't self-extract.
  3. Try to remain calm if you go into a tree well.  First get breathing through your Avalung.  Then try to self-extract and contact help.

 

Any other suggestions?

post #72 of 81

I was fortunate to have Goode poles with quick release straps when I got caught.  I think any strap that easily pulls off the pole is a good safety idea.  Very few are set up this way.  I agree with the use of the Avalung, and bought my first Covert pack for this express purpose back in 2006.

post #73 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post

I was fortunate to have Goode poles with quick release straps when I got caught.  I think any strap that easily pulls off the pole is a good safety idea. 

Or another great idea is just not to use the straps on your poles.

post #74 of 81

He is another tip for tball, don't take air in the trees when you can't see or don't know the landing zone. That is what got him into the treewell to begin with and it might just be dumb luck that prevented his head from hitting the tree because once in the air there isn't much directional control.

post #75 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post

He is another tip for tball, don't take air in the trees when you can't see or don't know the landing zone. That is what got him into the treewell to begin with and it might just be dumb luck that prevented his head from hitting the tree because once in the air there isn't much directional control.

 

Thanks, but I had my helmet on, so my head would have been fine.  Now with my Avalung I don't need to worry about tree wells.  I guess I need to pick up some body armor too so I'm perfectly safe...

post #76 of 81

Might want to get some SL hand guards for the pesky tree limbs.

post #77 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post

 

Thanks, but I had my helmet on, so my head would have been fine.  Now with my Avalung I don't need to worry about tree wells.  I guess I need to pick up some body armor too so I'm perfectly safe...

 

Well, if you've got the gear, no need for common sense then, eh?  :)

 

(That's a joke... really.)

post #78 of 81

*

 

*

 

Wait...is this the "Me and a treewell on a date thread" ?

 

oh..."Avoiding treewells".

 

I will say I was a bit impressed on our date.  A little prickly at first, but I could imagine myself falling deep.  Had to say no.  Dangerous.  I'm married.

 

(photos courtesy of Segbrown...spying on me...who also threatened to call Betsy :o)

post #79 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post

Thanks, but I had my helmet on, so my head would have been fine.  Now with my Avalung I don't need to worry about tree wells.  I guess I need to pick up some body armor too so I'm perfectly safe...

Maybe that avalung will be useful in a treewell if you didn't have it in your mouth, but I wouldn't count on it.

Mike
post #80 of 81

BUMP

 

Given the recent tree well tragedy at JH, if you haven't ever read the info in the following link please take a look.  If you have read it before, please read it again to refresh your knowledge about the dangers of tree wells.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Toecutter View Post
 

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

 

Earlier in this thread and on the website noted above there are a few videos if you have no idea what can happen in a tree well.

 

If you think that tree wells are only something that advanced skiers need to learn about, read this story from Feb 2013.  This tree well incident happened at Vail in trees near a lift that only serves green terrain.  In this case, there was a happy ending thanks to someone who was paying attention and stopped to investigate.  He also knew how to help until ski patrol could take over.

 

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

post #81 of 81

Don't know if I've already posted it, but I have found that being able to release your boots from your bindings while upside down, without loosing hold of your skis can be helpful.  There is a small chance, but a chance nevertheless, if the snow isn't too light that you can use your skis as (the rungs of) a ladder to climb out (if they are long enough) and reach denser snow.

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