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Wearing A Beacon in-bounds at the Ski Area?

post #1 of 157
Thread Starter 
To me, this is a real question, as I've been in numerous vicious sloughs, cut slides, and dropped in with the cornice still under my skis, so I know stuff does happen, and it does happen to me, in-bounds. Nature will prevail, and has no respect for signage or our illusions.

What I have been reading about survival times when buried completely is that you don't have a lot of time, 10 minutes max? So let's count. 1) the slide is spotted and someone calls it in with their cell phone if you're lucky and they have coverage (let's go best scenario) 2) Patrol get the call and dispatches patrol to the scene 3) Patrol ride the lift to the site above the slide (if they are standing at the top of the lift at the time, you are 5 minutes ahead) 4)Patrol assemble the dogs and the rescue gear and ski to the scene 5) Patrol begins systematic search of debris field 6) Patrol digs through sierra cement snow to uncover the skier.

Can all that really happen in 10 minutes?

If you are buddy system with a skier that has a beacon, some of the above steps are eliminated, as the searcher is on scene immediately. So are the beacons really only effective with a partner. Say you are skiing with your kid. To be able to rescue each would be the best capability you could have.

Does anyone know the real numbers? on hypothermia? suffocation? shock? Panic?

Or are we talking about recovery more than rescue, regardless of beacons?
post #2 of 157
The statistics I have seen indicate that your chances of being dug up alive seriously decline after 15 min. of burial. Obviously this is dependant on a lot of factors, but people have been buried for significant amounts of time and been recoved and revived.

My personal feeling is that if you are someplace you feel you need a beacon then you should be skiing with a partner and you should both have probes and shovels, otherwise it is unlikely it will do you much good. OTOH, it is not a hassle to wear one and it only costs the price of the batteries, so better safe than sorry. Just make sure you take it off before you go in the bar or you'll look like a real gaper.
post #3 of 157
Well, you hit the nail on the head with the response time. In addition, how many people ski inbounds like they ski in the backcountry? In the backcountry it's one at a time to common safe areas or some variation thereof. Inbounds, me and my friends usually have a free-for-all. It doesn't help to have everyone at the bottom of the hill if something slides.

Anyway, I don't see the point. However, one fun thing is to ask your local ski patrol if they bury beacons for practice. A lot of times ski patrol will bury a beacon every day or maybe a specific day of the week and anyone can go to that area and practice. That can be fun and an excuse to bring a beacon with you.
post #4 of 157
Yes, response time can be quite quick. Mammoth had a massive slide 2 years ago with no fatalities. All of Climax slid.
http://www.powdermag.com/news/mammoth-avalanche/


Most skiers do not own a beacon. For the small numbers who do - I guess you could wear it. I don't unless I'm going into sidecountry. For example, in the past 45 years there were only 22 in-bounds deaths with recent numbers declining. Compared with 50 million skier days per year, I like my odds.

Avalanche deaths in the United States: a 45-year analysis
A total of 440 victims were killed in 324 fatal avalanches, of which 87.7% were fully buried, 4.7% were partially buried, and 7.6% were not buried. The average age was 27.6 ± 10.6 years, and 87.3% were men. Victims who died included climbers (25.5%), backcountry skiers (22.7%), out-of-bounds skiers (10.0%), snowmobilers (6.8%), in-bounds skiers (5.2%), residents (4.5%), ski patrollers (3.6%), workers (3.6%), and motorists (3.0%). Over the 45-year study period there appear to be decreases in the deaths of in-bounds skiers, highway workers, and motorists. Increasing fatalities were observed among out-of-bounds skiers, snowmobilers, ski patrollers, and backcountry skiers. Most deaths occurred in Colorado (33.0%), Washington (13.2%), and Alaska (12.0%).
post #5 of 157
Might I suggest using the search function (as usual, both here and TGR).

A great deal depends on where and how you ski. Here in the PNW, I think there is often good reason to beep & to ski with a partner if you are skiing off-piste - even inbounds. Look for previous discussions regarding tree wells, etc. And inbounds slides are not unheard of. Including ones that catch people. Despite the fact that we ski pretty tame stuff, & virtually all inbounds, cloudpeak and I usually wear beacons & packs on all but the most stable days. And keep an eye on each other accordingly. A visit to a tree well is an educational experience...
post #6 of 157
Don't forget Recco as an inbounds option. Most major avy hazard prone areas have the detectors.
post #7 of 157
I remember the Bullet saga at Mammoth a few years ago on TGR... saved by a boarder?
post #8 of 157
Thread Starter 

using a different control group to derive odds

some are citing odds of being buried inclusive of all skiers.

however, if you could take only skiers who are looking for trouble every storm (in-bounds and with a buddy), that is: looking for the deepest, steepest, and least skied lines, (inherently the most unstable), with adjacent terrain hazards, you would get a different percentage of skiers who have been buried partially or completely.

then you have to think: shovel and beacon.

so, somewhat on the topic, what are various trick methods of carrying a shovel, with minimal encumbrance.

I currently employ a low tech safety measure. I have a good whistle around my neck. It could work, of course, providing I am not fully buried and can get the whistle to my lips and have some time and some breath. better than nothing, and patrol told me he'd come over if he heard a whistle blasting.
post #9 of 157
Lifelink Sling Blade is probably as minimal as it gets...



I see people with them now and again.

Or any lower profile pack minus exterior frills - like the BCA Stash (probably as low a profile pack as I've seen) or a BD Covert (w ith or without Avalung). IMO, shovel handles carried on the inside of packs are a good idea in lift served scenarios.
post #10 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisc View Post
For example, in the past 45 years there were only 22 in-bounds deaths with recent numbers declining. Compared with 50 million skier days per year, I like my odds.
Does your 22 fatalities include snow immersion deaths?

In the 15 years I've skied baker, there has been only one year in which no fatalites from avalanches or snow immersion occurred in bounds or in the side country. Granted, it is the most dangerous place to ski inbounds in the US...
I've been in treewells, and in inbounds slides, inluding a complete burial following a 90" storm. I wear a beacon - the few pennies that the batteries cost me me are worthwhile. And I carry a shovel/probe on days when it is indicated.
post #11 of 157
Thread Starter 
Spindrift: that is cool. I'm on it. buy it or make one. good shovel brand, model?, convenient and really can move heavy ass snow? what is the chairlift issue (with respect to safety I assume).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry_Morgan View Post
. And I carry a shovel/probe on days when it is indicated.
how do you carry your shovel, riding lifts and keeping it out of a tangle?
post #12 of 157
I wear one inbounds here in Jackson Hole pretty much every day I think there might be considerable or higher avi danger *out* of bounds. Here are my reasons:

A. It requires almost nothing to wear one, other than maybe one or two extra sets of batteries in a season.

B. Many, many inbounds skiers here at JH do the same. That means that IF there happened to be an unanticipated slide and IF I were caught and buried, there's a pretty good chance that somebody else will have witnessed my avalanche. And if - regardless of where you are - you witness a burial, what's the third thing you'll do after 1; calling the cavalry if you can and 2; after making sure it's safe to enter the slide zone? You'll turn your transceiver on "search" and start looking for me.

C. Even if that person who witnessed me get buried doesn't have a shovel/probe, they may be good enough with a beacon to have already located and maybe even pinpointed my location by the time the folks with the gear get there. Some of my very precious minutes just got saved.

D. Statistics are just that - essentially they are averages. While your odds go down dramatically after 20 or 30 minutes, there are scads of examples of buried skiers who lived an hour or more. I prefer to assume that if I'm UN lucky enough to get buried inbounds, I'm going to be LUCKY enough to not suffocate immediately. If having that beacon on means that the patrol doesn't have to do an exhausting and time-consuming probeline search, then I'm WAY ahead of the odds.

E. Last but hardly least, maybe I'm not the one who gets buried but I witness it happening to someone else. Maybe my being there - inbounds - with my beacon on search will make the difference for them.

And that's why I regularly wear a beacon inbounds.
post #13 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post
2) Patrol get the call and dispatches patrol to the scene 3) Patrol ride the lift to the site above the slide (if they are standing at the top of the lift at the time, you are 5 minutes ahead) 4)Patrol assemble the dogs and the rescue gear and ski to the scene 5)Patrol begins systematic search of debris field 6) Patrol digs through sierra cement snow to uncover the skier.

Can all that really happen in 10 minutes?
At our mountain, there are ALWAYS ski patrollers at the top stations and ALMOST always at least one search dog there as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

5) Patrol begins systematic search of debris field
This one single step is where your life could easily be saved by wearing a beacon inbounds. If the patrol doesn't have a dog and if you aren't wearing a beacon, the rescuers have no choice but to do a systematic search.

In this kind of situation, systematic can equal dead.

You may or may not realize it, but I believe patrollers at most big-mountain ski resorts are trained to do a basic beacon search immediately upon arrival at the scene of the slide. They're looking for you even if they don't know you're there.
post #14 of 157
I want to echo what Bob said. Even if you are dead, wearing a beacon inbounds can be a help to patrollers. When they are looking for bodies, they are at risk. Anything that lets them find yours sooner makes their job easier and helps to reduce their risk. Especially if they have a witness that says you are the only body they need to look for.

The primary benefit of wearing a beacon inbounds is that you are in a position to help search in case of an incident. The side benefits that it might make recovery easier or actually help to save your own life are unlikely but come at no extra cost. You don't wear shovel to dig yourself out. It may help to think of a beacon the same way.
post #15 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post


how do you carry your shovel, riding lifts and keeping it out of a tangle?
I use a pack. It has shovel/probe pockets on the outside, but I keep them inside while inbounds to reduce the chance of hanging up on the chair.
post #16 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisc View Post
. For example, in the past 45 years there were only 22 in-bounds deaths with recent numbers declining. Compared with 50 million skier days per year, I like my odds.
).
Guess it all depends where you ski. I never wore one in Ohio. The statistics are skewed by places like that.

Last year was a good year for me. I was not in any inbounds avalanches or searches. The first time in three years. You bet I wear one.

The slide I was in had two patrollers with beacons out searching the terminus in less than one minute.
post #17 of 157
I bought a beacon at the end of the season last year.

I was also introduced to Reeco and from now on I will be wearing my beacon and have a Reeco in my pants pocket (its just the Reeco device as a stand alone).

Why? Firstly I do like to ski the untracked and the placed most people don't go, but it's still inbounds. If a slide were to happen why not wear it for the sake of a few batteries.

If someone else is buried I would feel pretty stupid knowing my beacon was at home, USELESS, instead of having it in the time of need.

Lastly I have heard a few stories where people were tree wellled and stuck, or hurt and unable to communicate. The stories I heard, the people had beacons and they were found quickly because of it. YOu don't have to be buried to benefit from it.

I also make sure I carry a few whistles and a Bright LED light, in case I am injured etc.... to give myself a chance of being found. I carry a few whistles as I have been stuck in tree wells and you can't always get to all pockets.

I likely wont' ski with my probe and shovel in bounds unless it's a deep day or there is reason a slide may occur. Even without I can dig wiht my hands where the beacon indicates. It's better than nothing.
post #18 of 157
I carry a small shovel and probe in my teenie little BCA Stash pack and wear a beacon every powder day at resorts. Even if I'm skiing alone. It sure can't hurt. I never even notice they're there.
post #19 of 157
I wear a beacon everyday inbounds but simply well because I own it for BC skiing.

Here is my take, if you are unlucky enough to get buried inbounds. You chances of getting rescued in time go up considerablly. The first responder to a inbounds avy are going to be A.patrollers carring a beacon. B. another yahoo like myself wearing a beacon. In either case they could find you most likely in time.

Avy Dogs, Reccos, systematic searchees will all take longer than you have air, but a a patrol coming from the top with a beacon will have a chance.

FYI snowbird has beacons hidden on hill, and during the gathering if some people want to see how beacon search works or even do it themselve I would be happy to share my limit knowledge.
post #20 of 157
Last year was such a bad snow-year in the Sierra, I kind of got out of the habit of using one inbounds. Shoot, I even have a BD Covert pack with an avalung that was just overkill due to snow conditions. The previous two years, I carried one all the time. Beacons are part of a package that includes shovel, probe and partner. If you're missing any of those, your chances for timely rescue go down.

Someone mentioned using a whistle earlier. Nice idea if you are lost or stuck, but not an option if you are really in danger of immersion in a tree well or slide. Snow is amazingly efficient at packing into your mouth and nose. It looks so airy and until you've had it happen, you just don't know how quickly it can totally shut down the availability of air. At least if you can call out or use a whistle, you have escaped the most dangerous aspect. Snow has an amazing ability to absorb sound. Yell as loud as you want when you are submerged, and I can almost guarantee you won't be heard. The idea of a whistle reminds me that as I get older, getting out of deep powder snow after a fall is getting harder, especially on flatter terrain. I could see how a person could become stranded if they ended up unable to get their feet under them.
post #21 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post
I currently employ a low tech safety measure. I have a good whistle around my neck. It could work, of course, providing I am not fully buried and can get the whistle to my lips and have some time and some breath. better than nothing, and patrol told me he'd come over if he heard a whistle blasting.
good luck with that!
post #22 of 157
I asked our snow safety director when he turns his transciever on? "When I turn onto the access road" was his reply.

I wear mine any day there is avi control, it is snowing or there is the slightest chance I may leave the ski area boundary. My shovel & probe fit easily into my camelback mule, & I stay hydrated at the same time. This year I will also have a recco reflector with me at all times. My cell phone is also with me, & the patrol dispatch # is the 1st # in my directory (AAdispatch). Also a couple of doggy treats in the pocket have a nice effect.
Thanks,

JF
post #23 of 157
Can you guys reccomend a beacon...after reading this post you have convinced me to pick a beacon up as I ski out west a few times a year and mostly ski areas where I could get into some trouble alone. Thank you
post #24 of 157
Search for relevant stuff here and at TGR (probably more so at TGR, really). Some very high grade info can be found. Also check out http://www.beaconreviews.com/transceivers/ I seem to remember some good stuff from Jonathan Sheffitz as well. Forum search and google will be your friend.

The short version will be to get a high quality digital beacon that is easy to use and practice a ton with it. Tracker (and presumably the upcoming Tracker 2), Pieps DSP, and Pulse Barryvox are likely among the reasonable candidates. Lots of excitement about the Ortovox S1, but it remains virtually impossible to get and apparently is not a panacea... Many folks consider the Tracker and Pieps the sort of the "no brainer" entry points - with good reason.
post #25 of 157
post #26 of 157
A beacon on backorder won't do ya much good I'm pretty eager to get my hands on a Tracker 2, but as far as I can tell there are zero available in the real world. And the places I know that have been taking orders on the S1 seem to have been pushing their dates back (unless I'm misreading something).
post #27 of 157
Didn't even check availability. I assumed they would be in stock. Sorry
post #28 of 157
Ditto---Bob Peters and TheRusty.

Also to me:
Its like a helmet---it reminds me everytime I feel it...hey don't be stupid, stupid. I understand this can work 180 degrees different for different folks....I am wearing this so I can be stupid.
post #29 of 157
one time skiing in engleberg.ma insist wear beacon to protect against yeti.interstingly,found out that it was good choice as la cops were after my drugs and money.
post #30 of 157
This forum debates whether to wear socks, use ski poles and now always have a beacon for inbounds skiing.

Quote:
Even if you are dead, wearing a beacon inbounds can be a help to patrollers.


I understand the sentiment that no place is always safe, but it is hard to find unconsolidated snow inbounds 24 hrs. after a storm. So I cannot imagine wearing one except on some really snowy days or after new terrain openings. Wet slides? Possibly, but often terrain prone to that is so tightly controlled in-bounds.

There are probably other things more important to your health than in-bound beacons. Helmets. Knee-pads. Wrist-guards. Genital Cup.
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