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Who is using an Avalung and when

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I am interested to get some feeling of how many people are
actually using an avalung and when.
Are you putting on the avalung each time you use a beacon?
Why are you using a beacon but no avalung?
When is the avalung helpful?
post #2 of 23
I have been using one for 3 years now. I mainly use it on descent but I have also used it on approach at times. Mainly while traversing steep slopes or when the trail crosses under run out zones.
post #3 of 23
I have one built into my pack. I use it on days of significant sluff potential -- which is just about every day at Baker.
post #4 of 23
If you have an avalung you should be using everytime you are in the backcountry. Especially with the Avalung II, which is barely noticable that it's there. If you are wearing a beacon (and in the BC you should be), the avalung should be on too.
post #5 of 23
I recently read some sobering stories of avy burials and tree well incidents. I plan on buying an avalung before my trips to Utah and Montana this year, but was also thinking it might be a good idea to get one for my 13-yr old son. Athough I doubt that I will take him BC skiing, we ski the trees alot (primarily N. Vermont areas and out west) and a lot of the inbounds double-blacks at places like Mammoth and Big Sky (both areas have had in-bounds avy incidents in the recent past).

Any thoughts on the topic? Heard of any tree well burials in the East (Jay/Stowe/MRG and the like)? Seems like a beacon/Avalung might be a good precautionary move even if we don't head out-of-bounds.
post #6 of 23
so I understand this is something that's near your mouth so you don't have to fumble with anything? Seems like a nobrainer for anyone skiing significant base (incl tree wells or BC). Then again it took helmets a while to catch on.
post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBay View Post
Any thoughts on the topic? Heard of any tree well burials in the East (Jay/Stowe/MRG and the like)? Seems like a beacon/Avalung might be a good precautionary move even if we don't head out-of-bounds.
You should definitely get an avalung if you're skiing out west. Do you think it'll fit comfortably under your one piece?
post #8 of 23
I have the covert pack with integrated avalung. I haven't used it at all this year for lack of conditions that could possibly be a concern. I got it as a result of experiencing a suffocating entrapment in a tree well. Very few resort skiers will ever need a beacon or avalung, but anyone skiing in deep cold powder conditions or where slough and avalanche is a significant risk, can add enough time to their survival to enable survival if all other safety precautions have been followed. Especially skiing with partners that are properly equipped and trained, and assuming you survive a burial or other immersion, and have the mouthpiece in position for use and can actually get it in time.
post #9 of 23
I wear an Avalung II anytime I'm in the BC. It can be a pain in the ass to put on/take off when changing layers, but death is an even bigger pain in the ass.
post #10 of 23
From the diagram on the BD covert pack, it looks like the avalung mouthpiece would flop around when you're skiing. Is the idea that you strap it down and then let it loose again when you're skiing in a high-risk situation?
post #11 of 23
On the Avalung packs, the mouthpiece can zip into the shoulder strap and "vanish"- ala the hydration tube in a BCA Stash pack (many specific model listings omitted...).

I have a related question though - especially since I've been kicking around the covert pack: with the Avalung II, the unit is inside your outer clothing layer & is directly secured to your body. OTOH, packs can readily be yanked off in a slide - and that seems to me to be a problem. Especially if someone is being lazy about securing all straps/buckles, etc. Has anyone thought about this? Any reason to believe you'd still have the pack on in a real burial?
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
with the Avalung II, the unit is inside your outer clothing layer & is directly secured to your body.
The avalung II is worn on the outside of every layer.
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by zion zig zag View Post
The avalung II is worn on the outside of every layer.
oops - thanks much for the correction. Don't know how I got the inside thing into my head...

The question about the pack remains though. Is there any fundamental compromise involved in using the pack version?
post #14 of 23
I wear my Avalung II whenever I am in a situation were I think a beacon is required. This is mostly out of bounds, but I've also worn it in bounds.

I don't think it would be a bad idea for less experienced powder skiers/boarders to wear one all the time.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
On the Avalung packs, the mouthpiece can zip into the shoulder strap and "vanish"- ala the hydration tube in a BCA Stash pack (many specific model listings omitted...).

I have a related question though - especially since I've been kicking around the covert pack: with the Avalung II, the unit is inside your outer clothing layer & is directly secured to your body. OTOH, packs can readily be yanked off in a slide - and that seems to me to be a problem. Especially if someone is being lazy about securing all straps/buckles, etc. Has anyone thought about this? Any reason to believe you'd still have the pack on in a real burial?
My biggest concern would be bootpacking a steep climb with skis attached to the pack. If you were to be involved in a slide/avy the pack could more easily be ripped off, and normally you would want to shed a pack loaded with skis. If a slide is big enough to rip off your pack, it would likely do the same to an avalung. They are well secured, but not a perfect solution. The ABS solutions are probably going to be advancing in the next couple of years, becoming lighter and better designed and tested.

Now if only we can become perfect in terrain selection, judgment and snow evaluation, we will have nothing to worry about.:
post #16 of 23
If I skied backcountry I would most definently buy an avalung. If there is equipment to increase your survival why not use it? Survival of the fittest, the fittest have the best equipment to deal with it.
post #17 of 23
I have an avalung but haven't worn it. BC skiing was in pretty firm, consolidated snow.

However, this year we have had deep pow at the resort. I have fallen in it a few times and realize how dangerous it can be. Once you are in deep snow, it is hard to move anything. I realized that I have to make slow deliberate movements to reach my binding release or else get fatigued very fast. An avalung would be an added safety factor.

Best and first is to watch your friends and have them watch you. I have pulled someone out who simply fell into a deep pow hole head down.... Grabbed those skis and pulled...

I am in tree well country and have skiied around trees. I haven't had a problem, but it would only take a mistaken move to get a surprise.
post #18 of 23
I used to think this was funny - falling head first into snow, it seems like a skiers dream. Then a friend of mine fell in bottomless pow unbeknownest to the rest of us (he was last in our group). Before we knew it he was languishing there for several minutes, unable to right himself or retrieve his stuff (skis came off etc). He wasn't head down, but I could see how it could be bad if so.
post #19 of 23
I split time between PA and SLC, in PA I only use it for the really sickter hills.

I always have it on in the limited touring I have done, though it only goes in my mouth if something makes me think I am in a posistion of danger. It is nice to know its there and works. I have only had one expericance with it, I ate it into a small drift head first it probably only took me a minute to get my head out but the avalung was great in that I didn't get that panicaked wow I can't breathe moment.
post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanish Armada View Post

I always have it on in the limited touring I have done, though it only goes in my mouth if something makes me think I am in a posistion of danger.
If you think a situation is dangerous, why would you put yourself in it in the first place? This is what concerns me about devices such as avalungs. Do people put themselves in dangerous situations because they're wearing an avalung? If I have any doubt about the stability of a slope in the bc, I stay away from it.

You people who wear Avalungs , you gotta ask yourself when you stick the tube in your mouth. "Would I ski this slope if I wasn't wearing an Avalung?" If your answer isn't a solid "hell yes" then this devise is giving you a false sense of security.

I read an article in some mountaineering magazine some years back, it stated that when beacons became mainstream in the back country, the stats for people getting caught up in slides went way up. Is this cuz people all of a sudden got braver with the new technology?

I'm not saying Avalungs aren't a good idea... these are just questions you gotta ask yourself. If wearing an Avalung is making you a bolder person in the bc... it that a good thing?
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferniefreeheels View Post
If you think a situation is dangerous, why would you put yourself in it in the first place? This is what concerns me about devices such as avalungs. Do people put themselves in dangerous situations because they're wearing an avalung? If I have any doubt about the stability of a slope in the bc, I stay away from it.

You people who wear Avalungs , you gotta ask yourself when you stick the tube in your mouth. "Would I ski this slope if I wasn't wearing an Avalung?" If your answer isn't a solid "hell yes" then this devise is giving you a false sense of security.

I read an article in some mountaineering magazine some years back, it stated that when beacons became mainstream in the back country, the stats for people getting caught up in slides went way up. Is this cuz people all of a sudden got braver with the new technology?

I'm not saying Avalungs aren't a good idea... these are just questions you gotta ask yourself. If wearing an Avalung is making you a bolder person in the bc... it that a good thing?
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Why is it that we have an 'incident mitigation' mentality, rather than an 'incident avoidance' mentality? In Driving 101, do you learn how to extricate yourself from the car after a crash? No, you learn defensive driving to avoid the accident in the 1st place.

Powdr
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferniefreeheels View Post
If you think a situation is dangerous, why would you put yourself in it in the first place? This is what concerns me about devices such as avalungs. Do people put themselves in dangerous situations because they're wearing an avalung? If I have any doubt about the stability of a slope in the bc, I stay away from it.

You people who wear Avalungs , you gotta ask yourself when you stick the tube in your mouth. "Would I ski this slope if I wasn't wearing an Avalung?" If your answer isn't a solid "hell yes" then this devise is giving you a false sense of security.

I read an article in some mountaineering magazine some years back, it stated that when beacons became mainstream in the back country, the stats for people getting caught up in slides went way up. Is this cuz people all of a sudden got braver with the new technology?

I'm not saying Avalungs aren't a good idea... these are just questions you gotta ask yourself. If wearing an Avalung is making you a bolder person in the bc... it that a good thing?
I totally agree with your thoughts though I think made the mistake of not properly explaining myself. This is similar to the old helmet talk. Certainly formost in my mind is to avoid any dangers that exist during the tour, what I was trying to get at is that I don't have the avalung in my mouth at the trailhead or on the 15 degree cat track or in other words situations in which the avy danger is almost zero. However I can't think of many tours in which people can absoultley say that through the entire tour we had a zero percent chance of something bad happening. In my mind BC skiing will always contain negative possibilities, are we not digging pits and simply going well the Avalung will save me. No, but we recognize the simple fact that no human is a avy expert, that even with all the best knowledge and tools **** still happens. So when we hit that deep 35 degree chute, after we have done all our homework I still recognize that this had the potential for far more danger then when I was standing at the trail head and in goes the Avalung.
post #23 of 23
While I agree that some people are probably getting a false sense of security from things like Avalungs, ABS packs, ect. I don't think that it's a wide spread assumption that "hey, I've got an Avalung - I can't be killed!"

Sure, maybe we could all stay off all slopes above 30 degrees. Most (including myself) aren't willing to do that. then again, people have been killed on completely flat ground. Then again, people have been pulled into a slide from the "safe" side of a ridge.

Sure, nothing beats good routefinding and snowpack knowledge, but avalanche professionals get caught in slides too. Some of 'em even die.

Sure, the mouthpiece (or the entire unit, for that matter) could be ripped off of you during a slide. Then again, it could end up saving your life.
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