Sunday, January 18, 2009

Training With The Mountaineers

in an effort to lead backcountry ski trips for the mountaineers i've been attending the required classes. ski leader training, avy refresher and a leader ski tour.

talking avy

some things i made a mental note of during avy refresher:
  • most complete burials are four feet down
  • most complete burials are found in the prone position (lying face down)
  • there are no recorded instances of multiple complete burials where someone did not die. basically that means if two or more of your friends are fully buried, statistically someone isn't coming home (note that if you bought me an americano on the way to the mtns that morning i'm more likely to dig you up first).
  • strategic digging: from the exact spot the beacon indicates start digging downslope 1.5x the probe depth. dig uphill about your arm wing span wide. you are going to be moving a lot of snow and they have about 15 minutes of life.... better get diggin partna.
(photo by mike warren)
playing with the bca tracker

during this avy refresher i had the chance to use the pieps dsp(first all-digital triple-antenna beacon) and the bca tracker. the tracker is known for it's ease of use and it did not disappoint. super simple and easy.. intuitive even. the piepshowever was hands down the best beacon i've used. it's multi-burial features seem to put it in a class by itself. but as we learned above the reality is you will focus on getting just one friend out, leaving the other to die - so your beacon might not need all that functionality (kidding.. sort of).

(photo by mike warren)
k2 skis are very popular in the backcountry (thanks mike hatrup)

(photo by mike warren)
the view from a snow trench

the view from the nicest snow trench on the block

pieps dsp beacon

bca tracker beacon


Missy B. said...

Matt and I had a great discussion about feet and beacons--well; actually two different discussions. Some of you might know that he's dealing with some neuroma issues in his foot, so i found some info and passed it on (i'm a nurse in SLC and graduating NP school soon, but my special interest is in orthopedics).

We also talked about the importance of beacon drills and doing them frequently to stay in practice. I just got a new BCA tracker and am not used to it yet (i have an old ortovox F1 that i replaced, and i'm faster with that one); but i have to say, i need to get out there and practice. practice cuts down search time. it's the ONLY thing that cuts down search time.

i'm taking a WFR course all next week (it's actually called "Wilderness Upgrade for Medical Professionals", since i'm already an RN. there will be docs and such there as well... WUMP). so i'll let you all know how it goes.

missy b.

Eric Taft said...

Matt, I have the Pieps DPS for a few years now, super nice. But, I hear the Ortovox S1 is a step up from the Pieps. We may soon hear about multiple burials and all surviving. Kind of like what happened in Colorado, recently: three burials, two full all survived. But, each individual dug himself out due to being able to breathe with the Avalung. Crazy.

Hart said...

thanks missy and eric!

eric i'll be looking out for the articles on that multiple burials surviving.. and digging themselves out! what!? post a link if you have one.

so i need an avalung and a balloon in the backcountry now i suppose!

Missy B. said...

Avalung is great if you actually have your wits about you enough to get the thing into your mouth. Don't count on it being 100% safety insurance. People I know who have been complete burials have had ice and snow packed so tight into their mouths that they passed out several minutes into being under. They were lucky enough for people with good beacon skills to find them quickly, clear their airways, and give them rescue breaths. Not to say that Avalung isn't an amazing piece of equipment--it is! Just don't let it be your ONLY piece of equipment.

Missy B. said...

In other news-- finished my first day of WUMP (Wilderness Upgrade for Medical Professionals) which is similar to Wilderness First Responder, but for those who already are licensed (nurses, MD's, EMT's, paramedics). There are a lot of paramedic/EMT types in my class, and I'm a little disappointed at how much we are focusing on patient assessment (because I feel like people in this class should already know how to do a good patient assessment). But nonetheless, it is always good practice.

Would like to see a little more on "improvising" of equipment into rescue situations, but we should be able to do more of that tomorrow, because we've been asked to bring some gear along for tomorrow's session.

That being said, this is, however, an excellent review of skills and adaptation of skills into a different atmosphere than many of the providers are used to (ie: rural vs. urban). I'm considering signing up with Salt Lake Search and Rescue because I think I have the skills. We'll see... These are always great skills to keep sharp whether you are leading groups in the backcountry or just going on day excursions an hour or two away from home.