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Tree Wells - Page 2

post #31 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by toddlasher View Post

Right, but if you turn below the tree in somewhat spaced trees you likely have plenty of space before the next tree. If you turn right above a tree you really risk going in with a fall.

It's never been my experience that every turn you make in trees is met by 'plenty of space' below.

Tree ski safety... Simple. Ski with a partner. Wear a beacon, carry a shovel, carry a whistle... If you're in the well inside down, you can't whistle... The whistle is for the rescuer to get others attention. Here's the big one. Be aware of all skiers, even those that aren't in your group. Look out for everyone. If you see anything like a piece of equipment or clothing near the base of a tree, stop and check. I know I did this at least three times last season. No one there, but since we ski at an area that has had tree well deaths, vigilance is just part of what I'd consider to be an extended but unwritten part of the skiers responsibility code. There's no need for paranoia, but there's plenty for being aware.
post #32 of 49
Ok I guess a statement that most could agree with is dont make a turn right above a big tree if you can easily avoid it. To me thinking of rounding my turn out below the tree works well, but yes, you have to be mindful of whats coming next.
post #33 of 49

And now a law suit from a tree well death.

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/ski-buddy-sued-in-heli-ski-death-1.2448605

 

As a lawyer, an American one I should add, I will be interested to see the legal foundation of culpability asserted against the "ski buddy." In the absence of any federal or provincial statute establishing such a liability, the plaintiff will have to rely on the common law - essentially a set of social responsibilities forged over the years through the legal process.

Simply put, legal liability attaches only when the common law recognizes a social obligation, like the duty to keep your car under control so as to avoid injuring others. I see no correlative obligation of a ski "buddy" to actively preserve or insure the safety of a ski companion, nor does the "other buddy" have the "right" to expect such protection.

I wholly endorse an ethical duty to come to the aid of someone in need, but surely not a legal one, particularly when the "buddy" did not create the potential risk nor was dynamically involved in the accident . All ski pants are "big boy" pants. And if there are no friends on powder days, certainly there can be no nannies either, particularly among two strangers who are paired by a third party in a wilderness setting.

D1

:popcorn

(My thanks to fellow Bear, Mr. Voila, et al, for the link)

post #34 of 49
post #35 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by slipshod View Post
 

We shouldn't be complacent about that. By midwinter, lots of eastern snowbelt areas will have enough snow to pose a danger. Years ago, while XC skiing up near Lake Superior, a buddy fell under a big spruce tree. He landed doubled up, with his butt down, his feet up and his head just below the edge of the hole. He was in no danger of suffocation, but he was well and truly stuck. If he'd been alone, he probably would have died of hypothermia. He sure wasn't getting out by himself.

yeah, after i posted i realized i'd probably get called out on that. that's why i added the bit about "where i normally ski" - most glades i've skied are just birch trees (or similar) that don't hold any snow - but you're right. better safe than sorry, obviously, especially since i'll probably be spending a little more time in snowier areas this winter.

post #36 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by catskills View Post
 

Tree Well deaths are also called Non-Avalanche-Related Snow Immersion Death (NARSID).  Sometime around 2002 was the first time any research was done that documented how prevalent NARSIDs was. Before this it was thought that Tree Well deaths were extremely rare. 

 

IMO back country snowboarding (split boards) may have also helped increase the frequency of Tree Well deaths. 

 

Anytime there is an Avalanche death we collect lots of data.  Unfortunately that is still not the case for NARSIDs . 

 

Note you don't have to be skiing in the trees for this to happen.  Anytime you are skiing near a tree in deep snow its possible.  Stuff happens. 

Am I the only one who noticed this moronic, unqualified comment?

post #37 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by toddlasher View Post

Ok I guess a statement that most could agree with is dont make a turn right above a big tree if you can easily avoid it. To me thinking of rounding my turn out below the tree works well, but yes, you have to be mindful of whats coming next.

 

Also, you don't have to "fall" to end up in a tree well. The branches on an evergreen, hidden by the snow can grab your bindings and "pull" you in if you get too close.

post #38 of 49

Re: alarms--3 is the universal distress signal. blow your whistle 3 times, repeat as necessary. But if you're deep in a treewell don't expect anyone to hear.

Treewells do occur on all sides of the tree, but seems like it might be tough to fall into one downhill of the tree. 

post #39 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecimmortal View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by catskills View Post

 
Tree Well deaths are also called Non-Avalanche-Related Snow Immersion Death (NARSID).  Sometime around 2002 was the first time any research was done that documented how prevalent NARSIDs was. Before this it was thought that Tree Well deaths were extremely rare. 

IMO back country snowboarding (split boards) may have also helped increase the frequency of Tree Well deaths. 

Anytime there is an Avalanche death we collect lots of data.  Unfortunately that is still not the case for NARSIDs . 

Note you don't have to be skiing in the trees for this to happen.  Anytime you are skiing near a tree in deep snow its possible.  Stuff happens. 
Am I the only one who noticed this moronic, unqualified comment?

Well, from the fact that snowboarders have more of a problem getting out because they can't get the board off, maybe there's some basis? And until split boards they had to posthole it into the back country?
post #40 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Well, from the fact that snowboarders have more of a problem getting out because they can't get the board off, maybe there's some basis? And until split boards they had to posthole it into the back country?

Tree well deaths are by and large lift served, so the tool one has one's feet is irrelevant. When you're in a tree well upside down, odds are extremely good that you aren't getting out on your own. Our most recent death was a former pro patroller on skis. By that logic, pro patrollers are spiking the stats so we should publicly chastise them. Tree wells are ecumenical in the danger they present to ALL skier/boarders/telemarkers.
post #41 of 49
...
post #42 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by slipshod View Post
 

We shouldn't be complacent about that. By midwinter, lots of eastern snowbelt areas will have enough snow to pose a danger. Years ago, while XC skiing up near Lake Superior, a buddy fell under a big spruce tree. He landed doubled up, with his butt down, his feet up and his head just below the edge of the hole. He was in no danger of suffocation, but he was well and truly stuck. If he'd been alone, he probably would have died of hypothermia. He sure wasn't getting out by himself.

 

They get 10-20+ feet of snow in many areas around lake superior.   They just got 26 inches out a storm yesterday.   Plenty enough to get in trouble...  Luckily we have more non-coniferous tress in that area which would likely pose less of a problem...

post #43 of 49
The two deaths here in 2011 were one of each, skier and snowboarder. Both near T-Bar 2.
post #44 of 49

I posted this tree well story in the thread from earlier this year: http://www.epicski.com/t/118498/avoiding-treewells/60#post_1559020

 

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.

 

Update: I've got my avalung pack, a probe and a shovel.   I'm going to buy a beacon exclusively for inbounds use and carry all that gear on higher risk days.

post #45 of 49
post #46 of 49

not intended to side track but....

Another a big hazard is breaking through snow bridges over creeks. Have lost friends this way. Be extra careful around them until the snow builds up more. 

post #47 of 49
I see they've ALREADY added a tree well warning to our conditions page. Really early in the season for that..
Quote:
As the snow starts to pile up this time of year so do the tree wells. Here are a few reminders on staying safe out there.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT TREE WELL & DEEP SNOW ACCIDENTS1. Avoid Deep Snow & Tree Areas2. Always Ski with a Partner and Keep Your Partner in Sight3. Ski & Ride in Control and Defensively4. Have a Plan to Survive.
post #48 of 49

Not much tree well worry at the moment. matter of fact, without some new snow soon, we'll be shut down. There really isn't enough to groom.

post #49 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by surfacehoar View Post

 

I never went to investigate, because I do know the resort has a small maintenance area in the trees in the general area I heard the alarm coming from. So the alarm was probably coming from a snowmobile or snowcat. Which is strange to me to think that they have alarms, and for it to be the standard car alarm noise. 

 

Alarms are so you know equipment is on the hill and their location.   Nothing like coming around a bend or popping out of the trees only to hit a snowcat or snow machine.  A girl ski racer was killed at Vail a few years back for this very reason.  Flags aren't enough.

 

Back when I worked over at Loveland, an upset lady came and complained to me (I was working the day lodge ski school desk) about the alarm on the snowcat working in the terrain park.  Said the alarm was ruining her day.  I explained that it was for her safety.

 

Back in the spring on a trip to Snowmass,   I noticed the on-hill snow machines gave very loud verbal warnings that it was approaching.  They had flashing lights and stuff too.

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