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Author Topic: Reason to Practice  (Read 3238 times)
atruss
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« on: March 05, 2009, 07:29:43 AM »

If your "that guy" who complains about practicing your beacon, probe, and shovel skills

or

If your "that guy" who thinks not having a beacon is OK in Moderate terrain because "you will be careful"


READ THIS, SERIOUSLY You just may change your position on what you think is important.

This happened on a 400' slope at 35 degrees, once the friend was already done skiing and in the woods as his partner was about to take his run.

Quote
Ok, here’s my story. My partner Krusty and I were touring in the Central Washington Cascades last Wednesday when after skiing an east aspect we decided to move on to another area with north facing slopes in the hope of finding better snow. After climbing to the top of a short 400 ft slope of about 35 degrees we picked an open area with trees 200 ft below us to ski . Krusty went first while I watched until losing sight of him as he entered the trees. It was at this time that I saw the slope to our left break loose and run out of my sight. I was pretty sure it didn’t involve Krusty however after giving a yell and getting no response then several more yells I gingerly skied to the trees where I last saw him. At this point I activated my beacon and moved left into the slide path. It was approximately 100 wide 400 long and a 16 inch crown. At this point I remember having the feeling of absolute disbelief that this was really happening, in fact the reality of the situation didn’t set in until after I picked up his transceiver signal. I also vividly remember the sense of quiet and being very very alone. There was no sign of him on the slope but not wanting to get below him and have to climb back up I started zigzagging down the path. I use a Tracker and didn’t get a signal until I was pretty close to a large debris field with no visible clues to his whereabouts. It turns out that he was hit from above just as he was finishing his run so pretty much the whole hill came down on top of him. I have heard all the arguments concerning the Trackers lack of range but I really don’t feel that this was an issue, at least in this situation. In fact it worked flawlessly. After locking on to his signal I pretty much went straight to the minimum reading of 3.4 feet. After assembling my shovel and probe I struck his pack on the 3rd or 4th attempt, then after determining where his head might be I began digging and clearing snow away only to discover he was face down and stuck tighter than you can imagine. My only option was to try and open an air space to his face until I could dig him out enough to move him. Up to this point everything had been going textbook perfect. I would estimate that his face was cleared of snow within 10 minutes of seeing the slide however with the removal of the snow beside his head I was confronted by a sight I will never ever forget, my partner and best friend lying there not breathing with his face the worst purple and gray color that you can imagine. With air to his face I began excavating which was made more difficult by the fact that loose snow would keep moving to the low spot and cover his mouth again but by alternately digging and brushing snow away I was making pretty good progress. It was around this time that I started hearing weird breathing noises and he slowly started regaining consciousness. Later he told me that he thought he went out in maybe a minute or 2 as there was no air pocket. After freeing him from the hole and getting him into a warm jacket we spent an hour looking for a missing ski with no luck so then the fun really began. He had to posthole through a blinding snowstorm and into the dark for 4 ½ hours back to the car all the while suffering from nausea. Because of binding incompatibility we couldn’t take turns. The recreation ended at close to 8 in the evening. He is tough.
The moral to the story: I am absolutely convinced that the reason Krusty is alive today has much less to do with my actions that day but instead because of my previous practice. Participation in SFB’s practice sessions (thanks Man, more than you will ever know) and having previously set up rescue scenarios that included all the aspects involved that day made the difference. I was so focused on making every second count that instead of taking the time to put my beacon away I held it by the cord in my teeth in order to shovel. Instead of reaching over a couple of feet to grab my gloves I spent that time shoveling barehanded. Go through this and you will have a whole new appreciation of the value of a second. Ask yourself, “How much extra time do I want to spend farting around to get my rescue gear deployed, how many extra minutes do I want to spend digging an inefficient hole or why did I leave some needed gear so far away that I need to waste valuable seconds to retrieve it?” Practice, be safe and have fun.
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Tommy T
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2009, 01:40:39 PM »

Good thing to have posted.  A reminder that it isn't alway just theoretical.

Two thoughts:  1) Study up on "strategic shoveling."  This is the url for an article on strategic shoveling at BCA:

http://backcountryaccess.com/english/research/documents/EdgerlyAtkinsISSW06.pdf

There are other sources on modern digging practice on the net.  This guy made a couple of traditional mistakes -- especially too small a hole, dug straight down.  If the buried party had managed an air space, the digger would probably have collapsed it.

                  2)  Clear the airway and give an unconscious person some rescue breaths as soon as possible.  Try to restore breathing as quickly as it can be done.  Uncovering the head and then just leaving him there unconscious while continuing to dig was not a good move.  Luckily, the victim resumed breathing on his own but that has got to be pretty rare.


Tommy T.
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atruss
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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2009, 02:04:07 PM »

Good addition Tommy

I was thinking the same thing about the assisted breaths too, and wondered why he didn't assist right away.
I'm surprised his friend came back without any assistance too.

I can't imagine how difficult it must be to make rational decisions like that under that kind of pressure

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atruss
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2009, 07:03:13 PM »

It's not complete but it could use some review guys

http://www.techsourceconsultants.com/coppermine/albums/userpics/10001/S-T.pdf
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« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2009, 09:45:36 PM »

That is nice and easy to understand.

I would add something about terracing and slope angle. 

Here's my hand drawn picture (if you can't improve on it for posterity, you'll get a negative feed-back  Roll Eyes:



The idea is that if the slope is steep, you can go out one to one as compared with depth.  Throw the snow out and down hill while basically shovelling straight in to the victim.  If the slope is gentle, go out further, say one point five to one.  Dig the first terrace, throwing snow down hill and then the final level throwing snow onto the first terrace.  If the slope is flat, go further out and do another terrace.  If the burial is deep you may need to add a terrace in the second or third case.  The idea is always to leave yourself room to work and a way to get rid of the snow without taking the time and spending the energy of lifting it very much.  Slinging snow back is so much faster than lifting it that the job is half the time with terraces even through you are moving more snow.

Terracing also is a great way to use multiple diggers effectively.  One (or two) shovels toward the victim while the other(s) moves the snow on out and down.

Tommy T.

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Tommy T
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« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2009, 09:48:42 PM »

You guys all carry a shovel and probe don't you?

How are you going to feel when you're up in GOS and there's a slide and you know there is a buried skier and you know "about" where but all you've got are you alpine poles for a probe and a pair of skis to dig with?

As they say, if you go for help, it's a body recovery, not a rescue.

Tommy T.
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2009, 08:20:29 PM »

You guys all carry a shovel and probe don't you?

How are you going to feel when you're up in GOS and there's a slide and you know there is a buried skier and you know "about" where but all you've got are you alpine poles for a probe and a pair of skis to dig with?

As they say, if you go for help, it's a body recovery, not a rescue.

Tommy T.
Well said.
I' left my shovel and probe in utah.  I either will have to get my sister to send them back, or buy new ones. Befor GOS
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atruss
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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2009, 07:47:41 AM »

People who are going have the following according to my records (yup I have records)
Eric: Probe and Shovel
Jersey: Probe and Shovel
Scottie: Probe, Shovel, and Beacon (DTS TRACKER)
Me (Atruss): Probe, Shovel, and Beacon (DTS TRACKER)
Rage: Probe and Shovel
Surf88: Probe, Shovel and Beacon - Probe and Shovel in Utah as stated above


Unknown:

All others not mentioned....

All of those who have taken the Avi 1 class one time or another:
Jersey (most recent)
Eric
Scottie: 3 seasons ago counting this one
Me (Atruss): 3 seasons ago counting this one
Surf88/ ( I think )


When I find more time like I had last week, I'll work on the shoveling guide again, thanks for the input Tommy

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