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Whitefish being sued for tree well death - Page 2

post #31 of 57
Thread Starter 
I've been a broken record all week about the topic because they got so deep so early.
post #32 of 57

Really sucks.. Totally could have happened to me at any time skiing out west.  I had no idea about the unusual tree well risk the times I skied glades with that much natural around them the past decades, mostly solo too.  I know it can still happen, but being clueless back then I feel lucky I didn't fall in one.

post #33 of 57
Thread Starter 
This was in the Super Mario, aka Gray Horn area. @Pete No. Idaho, you skied this area with Ted.
post #34 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

Really sucks.. Totally could have happened to me at any time skiing out west.  I had no idea about the unusual tree well risk the times I skied glades with that much natural around them the past decades, mostly solo too.  I know it can still happen, but being clueless back then I feel lucky I didn't fall in one.


Did happen to me at Aspen Highlands a long time ago (80's?). I was able to release my bindings and got out OK on my own, but didn't appreciate until a lot later how fortunate I was.

post #35 of 57
Thread Starter 
post #36 of 57
Thread Starter 
post #37 of 57

Dang, are you folks placing bait in them or something?  It might be time to initiate a resort policy of no singles in the trees??

post #38 of 57

Very sad to hear. Tom was the brother of former Canadian downhill racer and Olympic medalist Ed Podivinski. It can happen to anyone.. 

post #39 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

Dang, are you folks placing bait in them or something?  It might be time to initiate a resort policy of no singles in the trees??

There are signs. They tell you to ski with a buddy. But how do you police this? Only sell tickets in pairs? Frankly, I ski most of the time alone myself. It's luck and timidity that have kept me safe. If I'm alone in the trees, there are no flowing turns happening.
post #40 of 57

It's very sobering to see it happening to even the best, most experienced skiers.  I'm starting to believe it's time to develop some kind of R/C device where pushing a button on your pole handle would pop your binding heels up and release you if you're hanging upside down in a tree well.  People are skiing with air bags and avilungs.. why not a gadget that pops your feet free from the bindings when hanging upside down with the push of a button?

post #41 of 57
Thread Starter 
So you'd slide further down the hole? Some of these things are six feet deep. Be more useful for the button to deploy a helium balloon.
post #42 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

So you'd slide further down the hole? Some of these things are six feet deep. Be more useful for the button to deploy a helium balloon.


Just thinking you have more chance to turn yourself around and dig yourself out if you get your feet free. Don't hear nearly as many instances of people dying in tree wells without skis or snowboards strapped to their feet.

post #43 of 57
Thread Starter 
There's some statistic that 90% of people cannot get themselves out. The problem is the more you struggle, the more snow is falling and suffocating you.
post #44 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

There's some statistic that 90% of people cannot get themselves out. The problem is the more you struggle, the more snow is falling and suffocating you.

 

That's because their feet are trapped and they are hanging upside down from the skis.  The advice I've always heard is try to reach up and get your skis off first if you can.  But if you can't don't fight any more that will make it worse..

post #45 of 57

I can recall hanging upside down and releasing my bindings while hanging onto the ski, and then using my long skis as movable ladder rungs to work my way out.  Fortunately I was not in that deep.  I'm not as flexible nor as strong as I used to be, and todays bindings are a lot harder to release than those old Tyrolia 490s.  Not so sure I could do it now.  The snow won't support you; it's almost like a snow version of quick sand.  The branches will not support you either; they are too small.  Good idea is not to ski alone.

post #46 of 57

Skiing in pairs is not necessarily all that helpful if it is the skier in the trail position that falls in the tree well. By the time the lead skier realizes the situation and climbs back up it is likely to late.

 

If you are trying to rescue someone from a tree well, don't approach from the uphill side as that will likely push more snow onto the victim. Insread, approach from the side and don't remove your own skis.

post #47 of 57

I was just skiing the same trees last week.  We were very conscious of staying together and had a group ranging from 2 - 5 skiing trees all over Whitefish.  It ain't easy to keep everyone together that is for sure.  At one point we thought we had lost one of our party and even reported it to ski patrol before finding out that she had not followed us but skied further down the ridge we launched off of.  Very scary half hour.  We also wore whistles...not sure how well that would work when upside down and covered with snow but the sound will definitely carry farther than shouting.

 

I like the idea of a remote binding release.  I think you would have a much better chance of survival if you were able to release and get right side up.  Otherwise you are just hanging there completely helpless.

post #48 of 57
Thread Starter 
You're assuming the release of your legs doesn't send more snow down on you. I've dangled upside down from suspended skis. There's going to be a SUDDEN radical shift in your body position. Unless you're an acrobat, I don't see you controlling that. The best defense is not skiing so close to trees. Or at least creeping around them so the fall is more controllable. My daughter confessed to me last night she'd fallen into a tree well in the area the earlier guy died. Fortunately, she went in upright and was with a friend laughing hysterically and taking pictures. She's exactly the kind of fast fearless skier this seems to happen to. [/mother rant]
post #49 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

You're assuming the release of your legs doesn't send more snow down on you. I've dangled upside down from suspended skis. There's going to be a SUDDEN radical shift in your body position. Unless you're an acrobat, I don't see you controlling that.

In any event, in just about any position, if I'm alone and there is no guarantee help is coming anytime soon I'd prefer that my feet are free from the ski bindings than clicked in while hanging upside down.  Yes, there will be major disturbance when the feet come out, but there is also much higher likelihood of being able dig yourself out or at least  get turned right side up to get your head up higher and closer to the source of air.  I'm also thinking I'd prefer to have my feet free from the skis if I'm ever buried in an avalanche, perhaps even free while gettign swept down the mountain in the debris so my legs aren't torn all different directions.  Ski Eject Buttons!  Certainly someone else has considered it though.  .

 

Agree on the best defense being to avoid the danger altogether..

post #50 of 57
Thread Starter 
The place this happened was very likely to have someone come by within 15 minutes. It is tiny, it is regularly skied on non-holiday week days, let alone a holiday weekend. His breathing must have been compromised from the moment he went in.

But maybe I should look at Avalungs....
post #51 of 57

Sometimes stuff just happens -and there is no more safety in numbers. A friend went down one at Whitefish - we were skiing as a group of 3, whistles, radios etc and not even far apart. He hit a snag under the snow which pitched him into the well. We never saw it happen. He just did not arrive at the next stop - very luckily he manged to self extract by pushing off the tree while inverted after he self extracted he radioed he was ok . We were still considering the options a: hiking up (not sure that would have even been possible ) or b:skiing down alerting patrol and then trying to identify which particular tree on Connies he might have been in. Had either option been required both would have taken too long. Your only real defense is picking the best line and making sure those turns upslope of a tree well leave you as much of a safety margin as you can.  

post #52 of 57

It is  a lot easier to ski the trees fast.  And speed, I think, will likely carry you over a tree well while going slow will allow you to fall in. (I say this but I have no experience falling into tree wells and hope to never do so)  When I am in the trees I am looking for untracked snow.  Usually that means I am going for the narrow slots between trunks that most are avoiding.  I have crashed but have never had the snow just give out from under me.  I would rather fall down into the well and be able to attempt to climb the tree out then be stuck upside down waiting to be rescued or die.

post #53 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

In any event, in just about any position, if I'm alone and there is no guarantee help is coming anytime soon I'd prefer that my feet are free from the ski bindings than clicked in while hanging upside down.  Yes, there will be major disturbance when the feet come out, but there is also much higher likelihood of being able dig yourself out or at least  get turned right side up to get your head up higher and closer to the source of air.  I'm also thinking I'd prefer to have my feet free from the skis if I'm ever buried in an avalanche, perhaps even free while gettign swept down the mountain in the debris so my legs aren't torn all different directions.  Ski Eject Buttons!  Certainly someone else has considered it though.  .

Agree on the best defense being to avoid the danger altogether..

I have thought about exactly that idea of electronically releasable bindings. Maybe independent left/right. Could be a ton of value in a tree well to let one go but not the other right away.
post #54 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by toddlasher View Post

In U.S. courts they probably can make a case against the resort, but suing the poor host family! Hopefully that crap is thrown out of court.

There it is! You can hear the drums inb the distance. Law school is very expensive.

post #55 of 57

I've never fallen into a tree well, fortunately, but trees are my favorite place to ski, and I do worry about it.  My question is, is a tree well totally unavoidable if you're going to ski the trees, or is it something you can take precautions against while skiing the trees?  Most discussions seem to suggest that if you ski trees, tree wells are just an inherent risk, but it seems to me it depends on how tight the trees are, how frequently they're skied, the line chosen, etc. Am I wrong?

 

In Steamboat this past weekend, I saw signs warning of tree wells, with a pretty clear diagram indicating that you shouldn't ski directly underneath a tree. This makes sense to me.  I figure if I am skiing a few feet out from the widest branches of the tree, I should be at less risk. Is this correct? Is this wishful thinking?  It must not be quite correct, because I assume the people falling into tree wells aren't skiing under/into the widest branches of a pine tree, which tend to be pretty low to the snow.

 

If skiing slowly were the main culprit of falling in tree wells, I should have fallen into one long ago. Maybe I'm due.  I figure that if I'm slowly exploring, I'll be able to tell that the snow density is changing underfoot - wishful thinking?

 

I figure my biggest danger zone is that tempting bit of untracked between two vertically aligned trees ... yes/no?

post #56 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by crank View Post
 

I was just skiing the same trees last week.  We were very conscious of staying together and had a group ranging from 2 - 5 skiing trees all over Whitefish.  It ain't easy to keep everyone together that is for sure.  At one point we thought we had lost one of our party and even reported it to ski patrol before finding out that she had not followed us but skied further down the ridge we launched off of.  Very scary half hour.  We also wore whistles...not sure how well that would work when upside down and covered with snow but the sound will definitely carry farther than shouting.

 

I like the idea of a remote binding release.  I think you would have a much better chance of survival if you were able to release and get right side up.  Otherwise you are just hanging there completely helpless.


By all means release the bindings, but don't let go of those skis or you will not get out.  (IMHO of course)

post #57 of 57
Thread Starter 
I look for areas of untracked snow that show evidence that they were skied before the storm and are therefore compacted underneath. A friend and I skied across an open area in an ungroomed tree section a few days back and I missed the semi-track we'd been following and shot across an open, but un-compacted section. No tree, but it was like diving into a bowl. Came to a stop and started trying to get back to the other "trail" of compacted snow. The more I struggled, the deeper I sank until three was a three foot wall around me. Finally succeeded in getting one foot up on the compacted stuff, but second ski was so laden with powder I could barely lift it and heave myself out of the hole. We were laughing about having fallen in "quick snow", but it told me how tough it is to get out of a hole, even if you're right side up.
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