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2017 Backcountry Trip Reports => November 2017 Backcountry Trip Reports => Topic started by: Randy on 11/17/17, 12:12 AM



Title: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: Randy on 11/17/17, 12:12 AM
Toured into Silver Basin just outside of permit area.

Enjoyed decent conditions soft snow boot to knee depth.   Some wind movement,  but no cracking observed. 

Checked in with Ski Patrol on way up as usual, but this time something wacky happened and the ski patrol started calling cell numbers on the check out form around 3:30 and since my phone was in airplane mode I didn't answer.  Patrol then called my emergency contact number (miss reading the form??) and freaked her out.   We just happen to checked back in with patrol about 10 minutes later, but those a very long ten minutes for my wife.   

T-Mobile service up there is lousy.   I was only able to call home using WiFi in the lodge.  Not sure how I be able to answer an "are you OK?" call from patrol from anywhere but high on a ridge.



Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: SilverFoxIV on 11/17/17, 06:31 AM
Might look into Garmin InReach Sat messaging system.  My wife requires me to use it for touring and hike.  Downside, plans are a little $$$.

https://www.rei.com/product/119863/garmin-inreach-explorer-satellite-communicator


Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: Randy on 11/17/17, 06:52 AM
I have an inreach.  There was no emergency.  We were not overdue for our filed plan. 

Seemed like the ski patrol made a mistake and called the emergency contact number thinking that it was a member of the group out skiing.

Never had a prior experience with Crystal ski patrol calling *any* party member's phone to "check in" on us.  Also note that the lifts were still spinning when we returned to the base area and checked in with patrol in person.

Not sure this is a case of a new policy at Crystal or just a "start of season mistake" on their part.


Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: Randy on 11/17/17, 07:37 AM
This is how it skied.

https://vimeo.com/243251125


Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: Chamois on 11/17/17, 09:28 AM
Thanks Randy - that looks pretty good.  Ha - I thought those were full-sized bottles at first.  Man, I thought, these guys are just killing it if they can ski-in with this.  And down again.

Did you get any explanation on why they called - just a mistake?  Thanks.


Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: Randy on 11/17/17, 09:39 AM
Calling my emergency contact seems to have been a mistake.

What concerns me is if their new protocol is to start calling backcountry touring folks starting around 3:30 and expecting you to answer and initiating a search protocol at that point if you don't.

I typically tour with my phone in airplane mode to conserve battery.  Besides with crappy T-Mobile coverage-- unless I'm high on a ridge I won't have signal.

I guess when I file future touring plans with the Crystal ski patrol I will be sure to add some notes that my phone will be turned off ,  add a couple hours to my expected return time and note that I have a satellite messenger to send an SOS if something bad happens and we need help. 



Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: mosetick on 11/17/17, 09:50 AM
Randy,
Thanks for sharing this report! This is the kind of info the BC ski community here needs to know about. I pretty much always tour with my phone in airplane mode too. Also, I can't believe anyone would expect phones to reliably work in cold weather anyway. Lithium Ion batteries are notorious for dying in cold weather so this whole experience you had is interesting. You have to give people some time to warm up and charge their phone when they get off the mountain. Mobile coverage on the highway ranges from non-existent to poor as well too.


Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: ski_photomatt on 11/17/17, 10:24 AM
Thanks for the report Randy.  Also given the potential for interference between cell phones and avalanche beacons, it's recommended to keep your phone off, or at least far from away your beacon.  Strange the Crystal patrol assumed you would have it on and readily accessible.


Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: lukehumphrey on 11/17/17, 10:59 AM
Verizon has the best mountain coverage in my experience. I switched a couple years ago for this reason. Not as cheap as t-mobile, but could potentially save your life.


Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: Randy on 11/17/17, 11:55 AM
FWIW: I tour with my beacon in my zippered right pants pockey and my phone/GPS in a left side chest pocket in airplane mode.

My own observational tests indicate that a transmitting beacon and an airplane mode phone with this separation does make a measurable difference in detection range  (by using old analog beacon)

However a non-airplane mode phone in close proximity to a beacon in search mode interferes noticeably.


Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: Randy on 11/17/17, 11:57 AM
Quote from: lukehumphrey on 11/17/17, 10:59 AM
Verizon has the best mountain coverage in my experience. I switched a couple years ago for this reason. Not as cheap as t-mobile, but could potentially save your life.


I used to have Verizon and coverage is great,  I carry a satellite messenger (inreach) for more robust emergency signallying


Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: r1de on 11/18/17, 10:09 AM
Nice to meet you at the sign on the way up (Bryan and Chris). It was a great day out there.

Verizon is definitely the carrier for the best BC coverage, and I’m so glad to see your comment about not mixing phone and beacon too closely; I figured this out a few years ago when my beacon started beeping on chair 6 while overlapping with my phone. After testing the theory, I found that just resting my phone on my beacon would result in error codes on the beacon.  However, I found that even in airplane mode it could cause interference, so the best bet is pockets on opposite sides of the body.

Also, I agree with satellite coverage for emergency use. I use a SPOT, which also does tracking. Works great, and wife can see where I am in near real time.


Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: Chris S on 11/19/17, 01:19 PM
Maybe give Crystal Ski Patrol the time you want them to start calling/looking for you (we call it the "Panic Time" in my house), as opposed to the time you think you'll finish the tour if all goes well. For me, the two are usually not the same.


Title: Re: November 16th, 2017, Crystal
Post by: rover on 11/20/17, 10:02 AM
Interesting that Crystal would call/start preparing a search team for you at 3:30... I share your concern about the precedent that sets for skier self sufficiency (or lack thereof).

Like most folks here, when I ski in the backcountry, I expect to be self sufficient. I don't expect anyone to 'come after me' unless I either signal for help or am past my 'panic time,' as Chris calls it. I kit up expecting to be able to spend the night out, and I've also skied out after dark several times - plenty of things can happen to delay getting out without constituting an emergency. My panic time isn't until after dark at least, and may not be until much later (or even the next morning) for big objectives.


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