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tree wells

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
The other thread got me to thinking
If you see someone stuck in a well, don't you risk falling in as well..What do you do to keep from making the problem worse..

Lee
post #2 of 13
Keep from going in head first with your skis still on. I'll defer to the experts on this, but I'd say get your skis off, then get their skis off and drag them out by the boots.
post #3 of 13
I've been upsidedown in a big tree well and it's pretty scary. I managed to get myself out, but it took a long time and I ate a lot of snow. I have also pulled people out of smaller ones a couple of times. I'm not sure what the accepted protocal is, but I think the main thing is to stay away from the uphill side. If you draw a sloped line and two vertical ones going down representing a well, you can see how prone the top side it to collapsing.

If the snow is deep enough to create dangerous tree wells you probably do not want to take your skis off unless that is a last resort for getting to the victim.
post #4 of 13
Typically, one falls, then goes into the well and gets stuck. Going up close to a well to help someone out, you're not likely to get into trouble unless you took your skis off and climbed into the well.
post #5 of 13
I think you guys are missing it....

The issue with Tree wells is 2 fold...first you tend to go in...often head first...then your gear gets caught in the branches such that you simply cannot move...arms caught enough that you can get your skis off, skis caught enough that you cant get your head up...then all the snow from the impact will somtimes come down and fall on you....somtimes suffocating...but this is extremely rare.

If aiding...ya keep your skis on, to help float, but just get in quick, and typically all you will need to do is pop the stuck guys skis off, and maybe help with pole straps...if they are in deep, and they are upside down, get your skis off, and get in to help....if you not all tangled in the branches getting out is easy...it may take some time....but you can dig yourself out.....just remember...to steal a line from the Simpsons..."Dig up stupid".
post #6 of 13
Here's your answers to Treewell Safety. Maybe Epic should start a Safety/Awareness Forum. It may save a life.


http://www.treewelldeepsnowsafety.com/index.html
post #7 of 13
Nice link slider---thanks!
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
I have looked at that self-help pamphlet, and it tells you how to stay away from them, but there is nothing about getting out, other than have a buddy..If your buddy gets stuck, you are both screwed..Hence the question.

Lee
post #9 of 13
Most victims in a tree well have a good portion of their body on the surface. There is very little potential hazard in approaching the victim to remove skis and assist them to get upright. Imagine a person in water with their feet suspended only a foot above the surface. That person WILL drown. A tree well is hazardous in the days immediately following big dumps of cold snow. The depression is invisible from the surface, and the victim falls in, with the head and shoulders below the hips. Snow collapses around his head and suffocation/panic begins. The skier has been exercising at high altitude just before the accident and is usually breathing heavily. Imagine, there is suddenly no air to be taken in because the mouth and nose fill with the perfect seal; light crystalline snow. If the snow is so light it can't be packed, it is difficult to clear an airway, even if his hands are free. If that clear airway cannot be established, the victim will have only moments of full strength to release skis, climb the branches or take some action before consciousness goes, and about 10 to 15 minutes to be extricated by a partner. All of this, and the guy's hips, legs and skis/snowboard are still at the surface. Quiet deliberate movements to create an air space are usually better than vigerous struggling. Try to remember that when you are drowning in snow.

I was skiing with a guy on a snowboard and we went over these tiny tips of trees emerging from the snow. They looked like little sapling, but we were on a 20 foot base in deep powder. He tripped and fell head first next to a little tree top, and couldn't get out. It looked funny at first, then got serious real quick. In another case, I watched a guy huck huge off a rock into deep pow. He augered in, and it took six of us to dig him out. And then there is my close escape from a tree well written in a thread somewhere. Tree wells suck.

A less lethal problem is entrapment in the funnel that forms around trees after snow has consolidated. This might be a scary place, and difficult to get out, but it is not the kind of tree well that generally kills.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post


I have seen victims in deep powder, no tree well, in the same situation (particularly snowboards) where they fall head first. There is nothing to push up against in bottomless powder, and there is no breathable air in powder. If you don't believe me, give it a try. .
Really? Are you sure?......What kind of air is it then? : How does the snow lung work then?

There is lots of air...the issue is the ice mask that forms over your face......bottom line...if someone is in trouble, dive in FEET FIRST, and help them out....you'll be fine....agian the issue is the person is HEAD FIRST, and cannot move due typically due to their gear being caught in stuff....this is one reason they say dont wear pole straps while skiing the trees. Just clear a spot for their face so they can breathe....after that take all the time you need....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
Snow that can be compacted and formed into snowballs is not a problem.

A less lethal problem is entrapment in the funnel that forms around trees after snow has consolidated. This might be a scary place, and difficult to get out, but it is not the kind of tree well that generally kills.
Really? Again...are you sure?......So thick snow that forms slabs that can cause big avalanches are no problem...cant sufficate in that you say?:::

Seriously....you are dangerous. Pick up a book on snow and read abit.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwxmas View Post
I have looked at that self-help pamphlet, and it tells you how to stay away from them, but there is nothing about getting out, other than have a buddy..If your buddy gets stuck, you are both screwed..Hence the question.

Lee
Lee,

To answer you question:

The issue with tree wells is not what they seem. They are not death traps waiting to ensnare you...the issue comes from CRASHING into them....again sounding abit like a broken record...but when you hit a well at speed you tend to WEDGED in....and snow falls on you, typically from the branches from you hitting the tree...now if you can move to clear you face, no worries.....hopefully then you can get your skis off...once you have that getting out is no problem...it may take some effort, but there is no skill or tricks involved.

If you go in slow and controlled, to aid someone the chances of you getting hoplessly tangled in the tree and caught under the snow are next to 0....becuase as the snow sluffs in for falls down, you can easily clear it...Pine tree dont suddenly grab you and prevent you from moving.

Hence to answer your original post....you cant really make it worse by going in....and the risks to yourself are very very low.
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
Here's your answers to Treewell Safety. Maybe Epic should start a Safety/Awareness Forum.
I think this is the kind of thing that should be in an Epic wiki. Forums are great for discussion but not so good for reference.
post #13 of 13
I posted on an earlier tree well thread about our guide in BC who jumped feet-first into a well to demonstrate its depth. I'm surmising that the dangers, as described here, are mostly a) getting in head-first; and b) gear getting in way, pulling you down.

Incidentally, someone noted pole straps. Never use them in deep powder, never use them in trees.
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