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Statistics on Tree Skiing Injuries and Fatalities

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I know there are lots of statistics out there on injuries per ski day, and the like but are there any statistics that actually talk about what percent of those happen in glades?

With the recent deaths at Sunday River (though neither were in glades afaik) you could say there has been a certain focus on my enjoyment of tree skiing about the house.

While there are certainly more dangers it I'm curious what the statistics are vs what the perception of it is (considering how if you say you're going skiing to a non skier friend you have a 50/50 chance of hearing "Don't run into a tree!").
post #2 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by bnferguson View Post

I know there are lots of statistics out there on injuries per ski day, and the like but are there any statistics that actually talk about what percent of those happen in glades?

With the recent deaths at Sunday River (though neither were in glades afaik) you could say there has been a certain focus on my enjoyment of tree skiing about the house.

While there are certainly more dangers it I'm curious what the statistics are vs what the perception of it is (considering how if you say you're going skiing to a non skier friend you have a 50/50 chance of hearing "Don't run into a tree!").

I would be interested, too, but I'm guessing that deaths happen mostly (almost exclusively?) from leaving a groomer at a high rate of speed and hitting the tree that way. But injuries ... Lots of those from skiing IN the trees. I just don't think most people get going fast enough to actually kill themselves in trees.
post #3 of 20
I think tree skiing is way safer than groomers.  About 10 or 12 years ago, all the major ski magazines had simultaneous articles about tree skiing in Vermont, at about the same time my mountain manager told me they were going to start grooming in a way that would cut down speeds.  I think the whole ski business was concerned about high speeds and injury claims, and that the skiing was getting more like Disneyland than an outdoor sport.  That's when the safety managers and the marketing managers started promoting tree skiing.

I think the major risk of tree skiing is that some minor injury will immobilize you, and no one will find you before you freeze to death.  If you ski with a couple of friends, trees are the safest place to be.

BK
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post




I would be interested, too, but I'm guessing that deaths happen mostly (almost exclusively?) from leaving a groomer at a high rate of speed and hitting the tree that way. But injuries ... Lots of those from skiing IN the trees. I just don't think most people get going fast enough to actually kill themselves in trees.
This is sort of my thinking as well. No matter how steep the tree run, and even no matter how wide open it is, I'm a "dink and dunk" kinda of guy in trees. I simple rarely have any speed on me at all except for the runouts at the end. On black groomers on the other hand, I'd HATE to fly into the trees at those speeds (and I'm not trying to go fast, just going faster than I'd want to meet a tree at).

However trying to tell non-skiing family members of how "safe" I am skiing in what is the equivalent to them of a death trap (or a Corvair) on snow doesn't really work (and I can't blame them - a year ago I thought tree skiing was silly dangerous too... until I saw how you have to ski in them). Also I'm generally curious if my perception is even correct - it may well be that tree incident rates happen more in glades than off the side of a groomer (would certainly be logical being that there are more trees).
post #5 of 20
I feel pretty safe in trees. You do need to be careful of snow snakes or features like stream beds that can catch you but If you are aware and scanning ahead, I'll take that over a crowded groomer any day
post #6 of 20
I believe that at least two of the deaths I recall hearing about this year were tree well incidents.  I believe that most tree smack deaths I recall hearing actually happen to folks skiing down the edge of blues and black groomers and hook an edge in to a tree just off piste.
post #7 of 20
yeah, tree wells are an isue for sure. Got to be very careful with them!
post #8 of 20
 skiing tree with a buddies IMO is the safest way around most resorts.

tree dont move and dont hit you. Its only you that cause an injury and not someone else. crowded groomers frighten me.
post #9 of 20
Everybody, for your own safety, stay out of the trees. There are hidden dangers and you will die if you go in there. Besides the snow is usually terrible and monsters live in tree wells. Please do not ski in the woods.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurel Hill Crazie View Post

Everybody, for your own safety, stay out of the trees. There are hidden dangers and you will die if you go in there. Besides the snow is usually terrible and monsters live in tree wells. Please do not ski in the woods.

And the wolves will eat you!


BTW, I saw a couple of very large coyotes, or maybe young wolves at the top of my local ski hill last saturday.

It would make me worry if I had wee ones.
post #11 of 20
 All of you are clearly expert skiers and love trees. And yes crowded slopes are definitely really dangerous, just a matter of objects (i.e. humans) in motion, and many of them not really in control...frightening often especially for kids (the little ones).

But here is what I have gleaned from reading, hearsay and making unintended painfully slow impact with a tree(felt like a bomb went off on the knee which made the contact), and I knew an acquaintance who was killed, he was an expert and crossing over (http://blog.nj.com/skiing/2008/12/tragedy_at_whiteface.html)

lets call it casual empiricism and the logic follows: the better skier you are, the odds are you are traveling at a higher speed, and regardless of how good you are, hooking an edge, or caroming off a ice block/chunk, or a root or simply mistiming a turn is going to happen, and if it happens in a tree glade, and you make contact with that fixed object, odds are that the injury will be severe - laws of physics, moving soft brittle object hitting a fixed and pretty much immovable object, results in greater damage to the object in motion. So it is the expert who risks life and limb, those slow speeds some of you mention above, i'll wager you hit a tree full bore at those "slow" speeds, you are unlikely to be walking away or skiing away for that matter. Tree skiing is fun but making light of its risks does not make them go away, they are pretty real as you must know better than I. Tree wells are the hidden threat, that adds to the risks naturally.
And yes, losing control on a regular trail and going off the side into a tree, I know a few who have related those experiences too, dicey and just plain lucky they survived with injuries, some serious etc.
the comments :
http://www.tetongravity.com/FORUMS/showthread.php?t=185277

This was a video from a TR by one of the experts on this board, really incredible movie, quite spectacular, and fairy-tale scenic, and tremendous skiing but one thing for sure, those speeds are not "pub crawls"..


Just an observation from a patient and diligent beginner. 

A postscript: tragedy at Sunday River, the second skiier who died was a survivor of a serious m-bike accident, lost a leg and then continued skiing, brave soul now lost, just sad. The other guy was a long-time skiier in the area. 
Edited by dustyfog - 2/15/10 at 7:02pm
post #12 of 20
 Even skiing at TRON speeds in the trees, you are still going much slower than on trails. Chances of a wreck go up for sure, but at least you aren't going that fast.
post #13 of 20
If you go to Revelstoke Mountain Resort's home page there is a link to really good info on the danger of tree wells.
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post

If you go to Revelstoke Mountain Resort's home page there is a link to really good info on the danger of tree wells.

there are places that dont have as extreme as treewells vermont and utah.
post #15 of 20
We have extreme coyotes! details? a little gross.  

statistics are, again, inadequate at best.

Your speed may increase if you are being sifted through the trees in your own sluff. best avoid trees all together.
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

statistics are, again, inadequate at best.

Agreed, though they tell a part of the story that I cannot tell myself (as I have a stake in it,  I rather enjoy glades and tree runs, so my perception of the danger is skewed). So while they don't tell a whole story I'd love to see them to have a more complete story than what I have.

I did come across one stat (allegedly) from the NSAA that only 7% of injuries occur on the mountain running stationary objects. However there was no reference for the actual report so I couldn't see what the full context was of it. So it's not a ton of use - also it doesn't really help with the whole "does doing expert runs inherently increase your risk of injury or death" thing since it includes all runs and all skills. A good case of "inadequate at best". :)
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyfog View Post

 All of you are clearly expert skiers and love trees. And yes crowded slopes are definitely really dangerous, just a matter of objects (i.e. humans) in motion, and many of them not really in control...frightening often especially for kids (the little ones).

But here is what I have gleaned from reading, hearsay and making unintended painfully slow impact with a tree(felt like a bomb went off on the knee which made the contact), and I knew an acquaintance who was killed, he was an expert and crossing over (http://blog.nj.com/skiing/2008/12/tragedy_at_whiteface.html)

lets call it casual empiricism and the logic follows: the better skier you are, the odds are you are traveling at a higher speed, and regardless of how good you are, hooking an edge, or caroming off a ice block/chunk, or a root or simply mistiming a turn is going to happen, and if it happens in a tree glade, and you make contact with that fixed object, odds are that the injury will be severe - laws of physics, moving soft brittle object hitting a fixed and pretty much immovable object, results in greater damage to the object in motion. So it is the expert who risks life and limb, those slow speeds some of you mention above, i'll wager you hit a tree full bore at those "slow" speeds, you are unlikely to be walking away or skiing away for that matter. Tree skiing is fun but making light of its risks does not make them go away, they are pretty real as you must know better than I. Tree wells are the hidden threat, that adds to the risks naturally.
And yes, losing control on a regular trail and going off the side into a tree, I know a few who have related those experiences too, dicey and just plain lucky they survived with injuries, some serious etc.
the comments :
http://www.tetongravity.com/FORUMS/showthread.php?t=185277

This was a video from a TR by one of the experts on this board, really incredible movie, quite spectacular, and fairy-tale scenic, and tremendous skiing but one thing for sure, those speeds are not "pub crawls"..

Just an observation from a patient and diligent beginner. 

A postscript: tragedy at Sunday River, the second skiier who died was a survivor of a serious m-bike accident, lost a leg and then continued skiing, brave soul now lost, just sad. The other guy was a long-time skiier in the area. 
If one has the skills to ski those conditions the stuff in BWPA video is much safer to ski than any blue cruiser on a weekend.The 1st part of the video the trees were not that tight and even then the pine trees have a built in air bag system with their soft low slung branches especially covered in snow ( sometimes that is frozen ice though). Later on in the video lower down on the mountain in the hardwoods section those smaller 1-2" saplings have enough give in them that if you brush up against them like a race gate they usually won't destroy you. Balance that off with cranking down a blue groomer and missing a turn for whatever reason and sliding into the woods off the trail maybe feet 1st maybe head 1st, whether you hit snowmaking pipes/equipment or trees it is going to do some severe damage. Some one at Stratton this past weekend went off the trail  hit something and died. Or how about getting run over by some one going even faster on that groomer, thats going to hurt too. Skiing is all a risk, tree skiing, steep bumps, etc. if one has the skills, to me is safer than cruising.
post #18 of 20
Skiing a groomer, following the fall line at very high speeds on a speed ski is dangerous, especially if you are near the edge, but what is really dangerous is skiing a groomer at high speed on a modern shaped ski, arcing lots of turns that have you pointed at the woods half the time. 

Skiing in deep snow through the woods at relatively slow speeds, not so much.
post #19 of 20
Part of the answer to this question depends on where you ski.  There are no crowded groomers where I ski.

Part of the answer depends on how you ski.   I don't carve perfect high speed turns but scarve which really minimizes my "carving into the trees" along a groomer.

Therefore:   If I ski, i.e., 3-6 inches of fluff on top of relative hard snow in the trees, can get going fast really quick.  Getting going too fast in the trees then becomes a real concern, when the gaps are coming really quick and you aren't familiar with the tree routes in a specific area then you had better slow down.  Hitting a tree is a bad option.  Magnified if you are skiing through a Lodgepole pine forest.  Smaller pine trees - but they don't bend to good when clobbered and they are really close together.

If you are skiing good snow that is deeper or has a soft bottom then your speed will be controlled more by the snow, this is when tree skiing is really fun.  The video had sort of fast conditions but not too bad and looked like a lot of fun.

Three years ago I wasn't watching the GAPS close enough and clipped a BIG tree in BC, minor rotator cuff injury that took about 2 years to heal at 90% and one new parka which I ripped the L sleeve and shoulder off.

Deaths.  Personally know of 3 and all 3 were out of control skiers that hit trees.  Heck Sonny Bono hit a very large Sugar Pine at Heavenly when apparently cutting through the trees just off a run.

My humble opinion says stay alert, ski the gaps, keep speed under control and know what a tree well is and this will be very beneficial.

Best tree skier here on epic that I have ever skied with:   Volant Addict   hands down.  I ski with about 3-5 guys on any given day and two of them are up there with VA.  John and  Randy I don't ever try to keep up with them in the trees.

 
post #20 of 20
 out of control skiers who hit trees from skiing groomers or trees form skiing trees?
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