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avalung mod for skier weighing less than 100 lbs.

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
My daughter and I ski ski inbounds at a resort where two tree well fatalities occurred last season. Black diamond sells a product it claims will allow someone to breathe oxygen while dispersing co2 in the event of an immersion. Has anyone used this product or verified the manufacturers claim? If it works, I am considering modifying one for her.
post #2 of 21

Great product IMO.  Learn and teach her to ski wise in the trees, which is different than learning to ski wise elsewhere.  I googled 'tree well safety' and found some very informative sites.  Pay attention to wind loading as tricky well's survive long after storms.

 

Here is a link to someone who has used their Avalung.

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

post #3 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MHarry18 View Post

My daughter and I ski ski inbounds at a resort where two tree well fatalities occurred last season. Black diamond sells a product it claims will allow someone to breathe oxygen while dispersing co2 in the event of an immersion. Has anyone used this product or verified the manufacturers claim? If it works, I am considering modifying one for her.

Avalungs have been shown to be very effective in real world application they published a video of guy who survived something like 2 hrs under the snow with one. Contrary to what most people think as ling as the snow doesn't melt and freeze into an ice mask you can actually breathe through it, however, the CO2 you exhale can't escape the snow and eventually builds up to fatal levels.

 

An Avalung protects against both ice masks and the build up of C02. It pulls air from a lower down spot away from your face where the snow is less likely to have melted and refrozen then when you exhale it pushes the air out behind you preventing you from contaminating the area from which you are pulling clean air.

post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowfan View Post

Great product IMO.  Learn and teach her to ski wise in the trees, which is different than learning to ski wise elsewhere.  I googled 'tree well safety' and found some very informative sites.  Pay attention to wind loading as tricky well's survive long after storms.

Here is a link to someone who has used their Avalung.
http://www.adventure-journal.com/2011/01/skier-survives-tree-well-thanks-to-avalung/

I was just about to post that link. Pete Lev is a Whitefish local, @MHarry18. Lives down the road from me, so I can certify that he is a real guy. I've skied with him.
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MHarry18 View Post

My daughter and I ski ski inbounds at a resort where two tree well fatalities occurred last season. Black diamond sells a product it claims will allow someone to breathe oxygen while dispersing co2 in the event of an immersion. Has anyone used this product or verified the manufacturers claim? If it works, I am considering modifying one for her.

 

A little googling will reveal lots about the Avalung. It has been around quite a while. They come in sizes. Is even the small too small?

 

Some folks have done mods to put them on non-BD packs. But modifying serious emergency gear is probably best undertaken with some solid knowledge about theory of operation, construction, etc. Especially as this is a product that must be worn over all layers - so you would not want to compromise strength, integrity, etc.

post #6 of 21
I don't think a small person wearing a large would adversely effect it's operation.
I was right at cutoff and went large.
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 

I think it would just come off. That's my fear anyway. She's a little kid...much smaller than even a small woman. 4' 3", 60 lbs.

post #8 of 21

I'll add that I really doubt it would be much use in a tree well unless she wore it every moment she was skiing trees, and didn't lose it if she fell and went head first into a well. Hard enough for an adult. IMHO - and I ski trees with my kids too - the safest approach is to teach about wells, just don't be in there with little ones on days where the danger is high, and get them into a racing program. Why the last? Because they immediately teach kids to stop looking at the gates, but at the line through them. Best way to survive wells is to not get that close to trees...

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

I'll add that I really doubt it would be much use in a tree well unless she wore it every moment she was skiing trees, and didn't lose it if she fell and went head first into a well. Hard enough for an adult. IMHO - and I ski trees with my kids too - the safest approach is to teach about wells, just don't be in there with little ones on days where the danger is high, and get them into a racing program. Why the last? Because they immediately teach kids to stop looking at the gates, but at the line through them. Best way to survive wells is to not get that close to trees...


Agree and disagree.

 

Agree with raising the question of whether or not an Avalung is the right solution. I'd be more inclined to pick my days, use it as a teaching opportunity,  and ski trees with a specific protocol and sensible kid to adult ratio.

 

Disagree about a race program. I ski a reasonable number of places and in general the race program kids seem to spend relatively tittle time in deep soft snow and variable natural terrain  - and that seems to leave them less capable in deep soft snow (and less knowledgeable about hazards)  than kids who spend more time free skiing. Just my observation. YMMV.

 

And yeah - on someone that small, I'm not sure anything the OP is likely to do will make an Avalung work effectively in someone that tiny. Or make a ton of sense.


Edited by spindrift - 10/21/14 at 8:52pm
post #10 of 21
She'd be skiing here. They spend plenty of time in the trees.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
 

Disagree about a race program. I ski a reasonable number of places and in general the race program kids seem to spend relatively tittle time in deep soft snow and variable natural terrain  - and that seems to leave them less capable in deep soft snow (and less knowledgeable about hazards)  than kids who spend more time free skiing. Just my observation. YMMV.

Places must vary. We do instructional programs in the trees from early L2, some mountains actually have tree instructional courses with cartoon painted structures to go through/around/under, race coaches encourage controlled tree skiing, racers even have "secret" shelters that can be a real challenge for an adult sized person to ski to. Which is the point. 

 

Sounds like a regional cultural thing.

post #12 of 21
I have an Avalung Agent pack; its a nice pack and seems to work for the intended purpose. Pm me if you want more info.
post #13 of 21

As a former race coach and current avy instructor, increasing skills to avoid snow immersion suffocation by focusing on racing skills is one of the most tenuous connections I've ever seen advocated.

 

Regarding the Avalung efficacy, yes, as others have already noted, it really does allow the user to breath even if totally immersed in snow.

 

The caveat for avalanche safety is being able to insert the mouthpiece and keep it inserted while being caught in an avalanche.

Plus trauma making the entire point moot in ~1/4 to ~1/3 of avy fatalities.

(I've been culling numerous incident reports of this while preparing my presentation to our upcoming Eastern Snow & Avy Workshop on airbag packs, since the same issue arises -- sometimes with a mix of Avalung and airbag users in the same party, or somethings a user taking a "belt and suspenders" approach, yet with neither working.)

 

But from everything I've researched about SIS (and also my tree well, ah, insertion), an Avalung user should be able to have a hand free to insert the mouthpiece.

(Another good safety item to keep attached to the sling or pack is a whistle to help the rescuers locate you.)

 

I might try to convince my nearly five-year-old daughter to try on my old sling to see if it might fit -- I suspect that the OP's concerns are correct about it slipping off, or just being really odd to wear.

Unfortunately the smallest-capacity Avalung pack:

http://blackdiamondequipment.com/en/skiing%2Favalung/bandit-avalung-pack-BD681127_cfg.html#start=9

... doesn't come in different sizes.  

I suspect that she won't be able to crank the shoulder straps tight enough for a secure fit?

post #14 of 21

I have an Avalung I wore on a heli trip. It can work if used properly. I've never been buried with it, but have experimented with it. Something to keep in mind is that for the Avalung to work, the user must have it in their mouth while they are skiing/boarding. If they wait until they fall, snow will likely block the tube and the person will asphyxiate before they can clear the tube, and that is if the person can even locate the mouthpiece and put it in their mouth after the fall. Breathing on the Avalung makes a honking sound like a goose. It's not steezy, you look and sound like a dork. So before getting one, make sure the user will be willing to use it properly, otherwise it's not going to work.

post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Shefftz View Post
 

As a former race coach and current avy instructor, increasing skills to avoid snow immersion suffocation by focusing on racing skills is one of the most tenuous connections I've ever seen advocated....

(Another good safety item to keep attached to the sling or pack is a whistle to help the rescuers locate you.)

 

...

Bingo on the whistle.

 

Race program versus just skiing is immaterial.  Racing is good for skills-building, but you don't need to be technically strong to be safe in trees.  It's more of a software/practices issue.

post #16 of 21

Does anyone make an Avalung + Airbag combo pack?

post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magi View Post
 

Does anyone make an Avalung + Airbag combo pack?

Don't believe so BD is the only one as far as I know that makes an avalung pack since they own the patent on the Avalung. 

post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

I'll add that I really doubt it would be much use in a tree well unless she wore it every moment she was skiing trees, and didn't lose it if she fell and went head first into a well. Hard enough for an adult.

 

Not if your ski catches on a snow surface-level  branch as you're falling in.       Been there...done that...never ever need to do it again

 

Took me about 10 real minutes just to find UP again - by feeling along the branch and the tree bole - felt like 30

 

If I hadn't had breathing ...I'd be a lot less pesky on the forums about now.

post #19 of 21

Intense and a unsettling for those of us who ski in trees a lot. I've been knocked down by branches, and gone head first into wells without enough snow to be dangerous, but never something like that. Glad you're still here to be pesky.

 

Pardon my fractured syntax. I wasn't saying that it was hard to go into a well headfirst, but that (based on everything I've read from users) it's nontrivial to get to the mouthpiece and keep in in during a fall in adverse conditions. Point being, would be many times trickier for a kid, IMO. Who aren't known for their foresight or impeccable reactions in emergencies. As I may have said higher up, my personal stance for my kids is that if there are noticeable wells around, they aren't allowed in the trees. We all have our own approaches, obviously. 

post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

it's nontrivial to get to the mouthpiece and keep in in during a fall in adverse conditions.

To your point, if you're skiing in tight trees with an Avalung, then you should have it in, or very near, your mouth when you ski.  It needs to be close to the mouth as part of the set-up.  It may be difficult for a young child to keep skiing that way.  By the time you're falling or in a tree well, it may not be possible to put it in.

post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dino View Post
 

To your point, if you're skiing in tight trees with an Avalung, then you should have it in, or very near, your mouth when you ski.  It needs to be close to the mouth as part of the set-up.  It may be difficult for a young child to keep skiing that way.  [emphasis added.]   By the time you're falling or in a tree well, it may not be possible to put it in.


 Age and headspace of the child is an interesting one here.  It's sort of like, Would you take this child surfing in a heavy shorebreak where the surf may take them through a spin cycle or two?  Would they keep their head while disoriented and not able to breath? 

 

Falling into a treewell and getting your mouth full of snow while you try to find your mouthpiece, then choking when you first try to breath through that mouthpiece once you can find and insert it, can be sort of similar.  Having the mouthpiece close to the mouth, or even in the kid's mouth, is no guarantee it will be after a fall.  Just good to feel that the particular kid in question will be able to roll with it well.

 

Also, as an adult in that situation, you are imo de facto informally guiding and lose all control, effectively, if you don't tailgun.  If you stop 200 feet below your kid and they fall early, you effectively cannot climb back up to them in a very timely fashion.

 

But, trees are fun and a great experience.

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