Big thanks to Backcountry Access for sponsoring this avalanche education content. Check out the additional plethora of avalanche safety resources on their website.
At Telluride Resort in Colorado, they continue working towards adding huge terrain in Bear Creek to their official resort boundary (it’s sidecountry at this time). To do so, they’ll continue closing the area in the morning from 6 to 10 a.m. so the ski patrol can do snow studies that may include use of explosives. Expanding the actual resort into Bear Creek is not without controversy, as doing so will rob core backcountry skiers of an area that’s now accessed by ski lift, but still uncontrolled wild backcountry. More, the usual environmental objections are popping up, this time as concerns for pika (small alpine rodents) that live in the area. As the place is already heavily used, we really don’t understand why adding more skiers would affect pika, but we’re not wildlife biologists so no more about that (biologists, you are free to comment). More here.
I’m sure you guys have all seen that avalanche rescue Vimeo vid? Yes it’s gripping and scary, but a couple of technical details stand out.
First, the guy in the Vimeo does use an Avalung and it quite possibly helps him survive. But, the accompanying text describes how the Avalung mouthpiece did not stay fully in during his “ragdoll descent,” and that he thus ended up with his ‘lung in the corner of his mouth and got a snow/ice plug in his mouth that compromised his breathing. More proof of our contention that the Avalung mouthpiece should be more like a diving mouthpiece (larger, soft rubber) and perhaps have a security strap around the back of your head? I’ll take the leap and predict that the Avalung mouthpiece will in time have a better way of securing it in your maw than it does now.
Also, did anyone notice that the guy in the Vimeo avy is dug out with a plastic shovel? I’ve always thought plastic avy rescue shovels were still viable for backcountry skiing, but howls of protest drown my opinion out. So what’s this mean? Plastic shovels actually work? Now I don’t have to keep mine hidden in my pack?
The burning of Fowler-Hilliard hut in Colorado is a bummer, but the hut keepers have it under control. They’ll be installing a yurt there this winter, and rebuilding next summer. More here.
And lastly, helmet hysteria is alive and well. I don’t mind helmets, and wear them myself for a variety of sports. But the recent news that Whistler will make helmet use mandatory for certain user groups is interesting. Frankly, I just don’t know where this comes from. Sure, head injuries happen to skiers. But there is no certainty on how many of those head injuries would be prevented or significantly mitigated by most ski helmets (which actually provide very little protection compared to something like a motorsports helmet). What’s more, skier’s knees continue to rip apart at alarming rates. So where is the outrage and activism about that? Why doesn’t Whistler make something like the Knee Binding mandatory? My only conclusion is that Whistler is yammering about helmets because doing so is good PR, while actually trying to do something about knee rippage would simply be an uphill battle. Kick me in the left knee if I’m wrong.