Originally Posted by Lostboy
Cirquerider, interesting comments. Glad you are still here. Apparently, the Avalung has allowed a user to survive up to 45 minutes in real life situations and up to an hour in tests. The key is for the person to have the breathing tube in their mouth before
they are covered in snow since a person may well not be able to move at all once immersed.
Absent trauma, if the outright inability to breathe is not the danger, then Co2 poisoning becomes the greatest immediate threat to survival. The Avalung helps dissipate deadly Co2 (for maybe up to an hour, anyway) and helps the person avoid outright suffocation assuming the tube is in the person's mouth.
Among other information on the Internet about Avalung, I found this: http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/ed-gear.htm
Not to detract from the tragedy of the loss, but what you say is true for avalanche immersion, but not necessarily for tree wells or unconsolidated snow immersion. Based on my experience, cold unconsolidated snow may look airy but is just like being submerged in water. It fills every breathing opening and no breath is possible, but movement is. If you can avoid panic and if the breathing tube is accessible, IMO you could effectively use it even though it was not in position before immersion. The challenge in that case is to eject the snow plug if you inhaled one. In a conventional avalanche movement may be impossible when the slide stops because snow heats up from friction and movement. Tree wells and unconsolidated snow are completely different in that you can move, but pushing snow away from your face is almost futile becuse it just fills back in. It doesn't pack, which is just the opposite of slides. I have no statistics, but I don't think most tree well deaths are CO2 poisoning but direct suffocation.
Slider, you are right about the wake up call. The backcountry should be completely avoided currently with the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center
(NWAC) declaring a high avalanche danger. When I had my incident I reported it to the Sierra Avalanche Center, and they added a tree well advisory to the forecast. Probably should be done by NWAC as well.
|OLYMPICS, MT HOOD AREA, WASHINGTON CASCADES NEAR AND WEST OF THE CREST- ...AVALANCHE WARNING FOR SUNDAY...
High avalanche danger below 7000 feet Sunday, with greatest danger on southeast through northeast exposures. Slowly decreasing danger expected later Sunday night and early Monday becoming high above 5 to 6000 feet and considerable below. Further gradually decreasing danger on Monday, becoming considerable below 7000 feet.