telemark skiingbackcountry skiingPacific NorthwestWashington and Oregonweather linksThe Yuki AwardsMt. Rainier and Mt. Adams
Turns All Year
www.turns-all-year.com
  Help | Search | Login | Register
Turns All Year Trip Reports
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
04/24/18, 03:46 AM

Become a TAY Sponsor!
 
Trip Reports Sponsor
Pro Ski Service
Pro Ski Service
Turns All Year Trip Reports
(1) Viewing these pages constitutes your acceptance of the Terms of Use.
(2) Disclaimer: the accuracy of information here is unknown, use at your own risk.
(3) Trip Report monthly boards: only actual trip report starts a new thread.
(4) Keep it civil and constructive - that is the norm here.
 
FOAC Snow
Info Exchange


NWAC Avalanche
Forecast
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  Hot Air
| |-+  Random Tracks: posts that don't fit elsewhere
| | |-+  Tree well inversion rescue video
:
« previous next »
Pages: [1] 2  All | Go Down Print
Author Topic: Tree well inversion rescue video  (Read 11469 times)
kneel turner
Member
Offline

Posts: 639


Tree well inversion rescue video
« on: 12/20/11, 07:48 PM »

Just an interesting video.  Something to think about till the snow flies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jvEYzh_1Sg&feature=player_embedded
Logged

No, I'm not a telephone solicitor.  I ski with my heels free.
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 2053


WWW
Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #1 on: 12/21/11, 08:19 PM »

Thanks for that. Very sobering.
Logged
ron j
Moderator
Offline

Posts: 2592


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #2 on: 12/22/11, 11:58 AM »


Yes, this is a very serious topic.
Thank you for posting it.

As many of you know, we lost Paul Melby to a tree well at Crystal last winter.
Every year we lose and handful this way.
If this guy had been solo he'd have likely also been a goner.
One's chances are not even great if skiing with a partner and the tail gunner goes in behind a fast skiing leader.

I think it might have been the Scotsman that had a bad scare with his son over a such an incident.

I'd like some to some research on the most effective methods to deal with these situations, both from the victim and the rescuer’s perspectives.

Logged

"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
glenn_b
Member
Offline

Posts: 316


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #3 on: 12/22/11, 01:01 PM »

Check out www.treewelldeepsnowsafety.com
Logged
bwalt822
5Member
Offline

Posts: 72


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #4 on: 12/22/11, 01:01 PM »

That is scary to see him literally being swallowed up by it in just a few seconds.

Seems like the best method for extraction would be to dig with the same technique as someone buried in an avalanche until you can get enough leverage to pull them out.  It could be more complicated if its a steep area and they fell in on the uphill side though.  For me personally, feeling someone holding onto my ankle would help me stay a lot calmer.  It might also be best to leave the ski on until ready to pull unless its impeding digging. I guess you could always stuff a backpack down a tree well to practice.
Logged
Stefan
Member
Offline

Posts: 128


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #5 on: 12/22/11, 01:12 PM »

wow.  thanks for showing.  the movement of him into the well was surprising to me.
Logged
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 2053


WWW
Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #6 on: 12/22/11, 01:30 PM »

Watching the video, I was struck by how ineffective the shoveling was. The potential shovelers didn't apply themselves very hard (a lot of people were just standing around), and the way they went about it didn't work well at all.

Digging along the edges of the victim's body doesn't work well. If anything it just encourages the body to slide farther into the hole. I think it may be better to start a large hole next to the tree well and then enlarge it sideways until the victim's whole body is exposed. You could get a lot more shovelers working that way, move a lot more snow out of the way, and you wouldn't be restricted by the presence of the tree.

I think developing some "strategic shoveling" guidelines for tree wells would be very valuable to the outdoor community.

This video made me really appreciate the value of carrying a shovel any time you're powder skiing, even if you don't have a beacon (often the case in a controlled ski area). I think about my son and his friends as they get more interested in deep snow.
« Last Edit: 12/22/11, 01:47 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
Amar Andalkar
Member
Offline

Posts: 1212


WWW
Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #7 on: 12/22/11, 04:48 PM »

Very interesting, thanks for the post. In watching the video, something strange caught my eye the first time, enough that I immediately paused and rewound it even before the rescue. How did this person actually fall, inverted, into a tree well?

Looking at the video, from roughly the 0:51 mark: the victim is skiing straight ahead, with his hands over his head, and right towards a single tree in the middle of a large open area. No other trees are within several yards in any direction, like maybe 10+ yards. It's hard to see, so I eventually viewed the 720p HD version at full-screen, and kept hitting the pause button to try to figure out what happened.

Can anyone figure out what is going on? How does he fall, and how does he end up inverted? Something appears to be just not right with what happens. Did he crash over his tips, or fall backward over his tails? He is completely inverted head-down when the camera arrives, and the tail of his one remaining ski is pointing downhill. Skiing with your hands over your head, directly towards the only tree in the middle of a large open area, and crashing into a tree well -- not good.

Just as with avalanches, the MOST important thing is to avoid creating an accident and becoming a victim at all -- rescue skills and techniques should be secondary. Skiing in a manner to avoid tree well accidents should be a priority. I'd like to learn more about how to do that. Have I been doing some things wrong all along, but just gotten lucky enough to avoid falling into a tree well in deep-snow conditions so far? I don't know -- although I've never done anything like what it appears this guy did.


One other unrelated comment: not sure if others feel the same way, but I felt a strong visceral dislike for the attitude of the cameraman throughout the entire incident.

Logged

davidG
Member
Offline

Posts: 908


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #8 on: 12/22/11, 05:40 PM »

fwiw, I felt the same way in that it didn't seem like 'an accident'.  I feel it was contrived.  that said, it doesn't take away from the message..
Logged

"Maybe we should ban hikers from anywhere that there is a potential threat to surface water?"   [courtesy Newtrout, 2011]

"Good for you for getting it and thank goodness I wasn't there with you."  [courtesy mikerolfs, 2014]
CookieMonster
Member
Offline

Posts: 518


WWW
Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #9 on: 12/22/11, 05:52 PM »

Scary! Tree wells make good camp spots and that's about all.

Lowell's comments are apropos.
Logged

Lisa
Member
Offline

Posts: 376


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #10 on: 12/22/11, 06:12 PM »

I concur with you Amar. Looking at the track going into the tree well I am bewildered as to how he ended up in the position he did. As well, while the camera man is taking his skis off and then looks up at another person in red I notice their hands are glove free?
Am I mistaken? Did they take their gloves off that fast but remain standing there watching?
I must admit at first I thought it was staged the way they happened upon him.
Scary stuff indeed.

I was once stuck in a tree well in the sidecountry of Stevens ski area years back and was on my back sinking in. I was on tele gear and as I tried to reach for the ski closest to me I sunk deeper. It was a scary place to be but fortunately I was able to yell for help until someone found me. Had I been in it face first it would have been a very different outcome.
Logged
Jeff_Ward
Member
Offline

Posts: 125


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #11 on: 12/22/11, 06:40 PM »

This video was circulated around the Canadian ski guide community last year and the consensus was that it was a good example of what not to do in terms of effective rescue.  As always, it's easy to be the armchair quarterback/Monday morning mountaineer, but analyzing what they did well and what they did poorly can be helpful if you ever find yourself in this situation.   

I'd have to agree with Lowell that the shoveling could have been much more effective.  Strategic shoveling is the best way to extract someone from a tree well.  It is even more effective in steep terrain. 

I think this is often an overlooked hazard in the backcountry (and frontcountry for that matter).  Last year there were more tree well fatalities in the Canadian mechanized ski industry than avalanche fatalities.
Logged
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 2053


WWW
Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #12 on: 12/22/11, 07:30 PM »

One thing that puzzles me is why we've heard so much about tree well incidents during the past, say, ten years. To be honest, the first time I ever heard about such an incident was in the earlier days of snowboarding, maybe 10-15 years ago. It seemed like the incidents at that time mostly involved snowboarders. Now it's happening to all sorts of sliders.

Of course there are more people in the mountains these days, but it seems like we should have heard of incidents like this at least occasionally in the old days. (It would be interesting to ask Paul Baugher about this. He's the Expert in my book.)

I suspect that it's related to fat boards making soft snow more accessible. I know somebody's going to say that I'm always making up historical trends, but it seems to me that this is a real one. Am I imagining it?
Logged
markharf
Member
Offline

Posts: 612


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #13 on: 12/22/11, 08:03 PM »

Jeff, if there's a body of commentary on this video indicating what was done right, what was done wrong, and what would have made a better rescue....can we hear more about it?  Read it for ourselves somewhere?  I'm finding it frustrating to hear that the video "was circulated around the Canadian ski guide community last year" for long enough to achieve consensus in the absence of any further details.

I went in a tree well once.  It happened so fast I don't think it would've mattered where I was holding my hands or how I was skiing at the time.  I was able to walk my hands up the wee little tree trunk until I was clear of the snow, but it exhausted me and I knew I'd been lucky.  This was about 10 or 12 years ago, and although I'd only been skiing a couple of years at the time I was sure aware of tree well safety before this happened.

Like others, I'm not impressed with the "teamwork" on display, and I sure wouldn't be advertising my corporate consulting business using this video. 

Edit to add: I remember seeing a video of Ben Manfredi (I think) skiing into a tree well, and my memory is of an outstanding skier totally in control who within a split second was upside down with his skis on the surface next to a tree.  It's possible that it's hard to imagine how quickly this happens unless you're looking directly at it. 

Mark
« Last Edit: 12/22/11, 08:10 PM by markharf » Logged
RonL
Member
Offline

Posts: 527


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #14 on: 12/22/11, 08:31 PM »

Ha, he does seem a little too, I don't know.... business casual? I really don't know what the best avoidance strategy is for this other than giving trees a bit of personal space on big days. I have fallen into a couple and to add support to Lowells next alt-history novel it was on the snowboard rather than skiing. I was able to extract myself with some struggle and power swearing. In hindsight it seemed similar to getting a tire off the highway on a soft shoulder and being surprised at how easy it was to flip the car - tho I have only done that once. There is likely a safe distance to maintain that would mitigate the risk. It might be worth doing a perimeter check of tree wells throughout the season on firm snow days so that one has a sense of how close to the trunk presents a hazardous zone.
Logged
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 2053


WWW
Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #15 on: 12/22/11, 10:01 PM »

Last year there were more tree well fatalities in the Canadian mechanized ski industry than avalanche fatalities.

That's a remarkable statement. What does "mechanized ski industry mean? Does it mean chairlifts only, or also include cat skiing and helicopters?

Here are some good references about snow immersion accidents:

Paul Baugher (2007):
http://www.nwac.us/media/uploads/pdfs/Non-avalanche_snow_immersion_fatalities.pdf

Christopher Van Tilburg (2010):
http://www.docwild.net/files/WEM63.pdf

Here's a quote from the introduction in Paul Baugher's article:

Quote
... in the period from 1985-1995 the NARSID risk was ten times greater than the risk of an avalanche burial at a U.S. ski area. This study shows that between 1990/91 and 2005/06, the risk of NARSID at U.S. ski areas has become fifteen times greater. That suggests that this risk trend is steadily increasing.

Here's another good quote, from Paul's conclusion:

Quote
In bounds avalanche fatalities are virtually disappearing while the trend for out of bounds avalanche has remained relatively flat even though there is much more out of bounds traffic. This reflects diligent ski area risk management efforts in the form of avalanche control, boundary management policies, and robust public education. However, also in the last sixteen years, there has been a trend in risk at U.S. and B.C. ski areas that has remained “under the radar”. This study was designed to investigate; recognition of the risk, key factors in the snow immersion phenomenon, and prevention strategies. The preliminary findings are: The greatest single component of snow immersion risk is that it is substantially underappreciated. The risk of snow immersion accidents (NARSID) is on the increase....

So here's my theory: Snow immersion accidents have increased, in part, because of more efficient avalanche control, which is opening deep snow areas sooner than in the past. Also, fat skis and snowboards have made deep snow easier to ski and therefore more attractive. Fat boards also enable recreationists to ski faster because they float better and are easier to turn. The new gear gives skiers and boarders more control, generally, but because they are going faster, they have less time to react, and if they have a close encounter with a tree, they auger in harder.

I'll also throw up a strawman that I'm sure will be controversial. How many skiers and boarders wear helmets, at least in part, because they provide protection in the event of hitting a tree? Of those who do, how many ski faster around trees because of an increased sense of security, due to the helmet?

As Amar said, "Just as with avalanches, the MOST important thing is to avoid creating an accident and becoming a victim at all -- rescue skills and techniques should be secondary. Skiing in a manner to avoid tree well accidents should be a priority." At the risk of sounding like Your Mother, I think the best thing any of us can do to avoid a tree well accident is to slow down.
« Last Edit: 12/22/11, 10:25 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
CookieMonster
Member
Offline

Posts: 518


WWW
Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #16 on: 12/23/11, 03:07 AM »

Mechanized skiing includes chairlifts, rope tows, sleds, cats, and helis. Really any machine will do.

Possibly reliable stats: http://www.nsaa.org/nsaa/press/facts-ski-snbd-safety.asp

It's impossible to iron out all the risk from mountain sports. I'd guess that most people who die at ski resorts do so on the groomers.
Logged

Jonathan_S.
Member
Offline

Posts: 619


WWW
Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #17 on: 12/23/11, 01:02 PM »

The additional background story on all this (besides the obviously ineffective efforts in general), is that the victim, Leigh (who is an avid but not very well-refined skier in terms of technique), explains he was just skiing along when he hit some sort of snow-covered log or other hidden object, and then went off course into the tree well.  (His wife is the first skier who starts off, in a hesitant snow plow, amidst cheers of "let 'em rip girl!".)

The intro and wrap-up, with all the talk about intending to produce a video on avalanche training, are just entirely irrelevant add-ons, although that's obviously pretty, well, obvious.

(BTW, the details are from a NE regional discussion group plus some emails with an acquaintance of some of the participants.)
Logged

My various "Tech" bindings are powered by Gu.
Oyvind_Henningsen
Member
Offline

Posts: 323


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #18 on: 12/23/11, 06:06 PM »

Chilling video.  I am at the edge of my seat wanting to help shovel, bark orders, and pull on his legs all at once.  I am incorporating this video in a instructional setting this year.  I have been thinking about what is proper partner ski practices when skiing the trees in deep snow.  How close do you have to be to each other, how often do you regroup, how long are your pitches, how do you communicate, do you ski next to each other or one after the other.  In the situation in the video if it was only you and one ski partner, would the situation have a happy outcome?  If doubtful, maybe you have to rethink your ski practices?  Play devils advocate and work through the what ifs and practice them with your friends and ski partners.  I bet if this group had practiced 'companion rescue tree well shoveling techniques' prior to the accident that guy would have been out of the hole in a fraction of the time that it took.  I will make an effort to practice tree well rescue techniques this winter with my friends.

Thank you for posting the video.
Logged

Lytt til erfarne fjellfolk!
CMSkier
Member
Offline

Posts: 454


WWW
Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #19 on: 12/23/11, 06:49 PM »

10 years ago I first heard of a tree well fatality. Off Chair 6, skiing down towards Downhill. I skied within 10 minutes and 50 feet of where a person was suffocating to death (learned after the fact). And, I was skiing solo that day. Since, I've increased my awareness and ski with a partner. But as incidents continue, I'm also more spooked.  My wife and I always ski within sight of each other. Since I'm the stronger, on short pitches I ski second. On longer pitches, we leapfrog each other, always staying within sight of each other. My fear/question is, if the uphill skier goes down in very deep snow on a steep pitch, moving uphill to rescue may be very time consuming or impossible. How do you protect the last person in the group? Or, if you are skiing last, are you still just on your own? Having skied a dozen of time within 20 yards of Paul Melby last year after he went missing, this question haunts me. Any thoughts on how to protect the last skier in line?

Ken
Logged

Kkz
RonL
Member
Offline

Posts: 527


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #20 on: 12/23/11, 08:14 PM »

I don't have good ideas about protecting the last person in the group other than not getting too far ahead. I am curious to hear ideas about that as well. I can recall a couple of times waiting for a partner to catch up, then considering that they must have crashed or gone another direction and may be below me now, yelling a couple of times, just getting to the point of putting the skins back on to look for them, and then they show up and relate a frustrated tale of a face plant or looking for a ski. In hindsight on those instances it is easy to see how by the time I realized the gravity of the situation and managed to slog back up to them it could have become very serious. It is usually on difficult uphill travel days that the risk is greatest and there likely won't be a ready skin track to where you need to go.
Logged
Koda
Member
Offline

Posts: 242


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #21 on: 12/23/11, 08:38 PM »

A few years ago I was skiing the burn out of the Big Sheep hut in the Wallowas. I recall being the last man down so I was already separated from the group a bit and was also ~100yds further up the ridge when I dropped in. It was some of the best powder conditions I've ever skied as I was making tracks I recall a slight convex in the vicinity of a tree, but I was doing well skiing safely around and away from any trees.
as I made a turn over the convex the ground gave out under me and I dropped into a hole. Lost one ski, the other stuck in deep... I was more upright but on my side. I wasn't totally buried or deep... but I recall more depth below me as I tried to free myself and at one point snow falling in gave me a scare, I stopped making sudden movements to free myself with brute force. Behind me I could feel a large fallen log that gave me support. After about 10 minutes I got out fine and was able to find my other ski but have never forgot this. My imagination it was a hole created by a blowdown pile, terrain, vegetation... don't really know. Overall, I think this is an anomaly type of "tree well" but I thought I'd share.

I can't say what the best practices are, the most I have heard discussed is stick with a partner and ski in control. I have one friend that actually makes 'whoop whoop whooping' sounds (ye-haws, wo-hooos, whatever) on the way down skiing trees. Being the last person down is tougher to spot, especially in low visibility conditions. I know in most of the larger groups I've toured with radios are always in use keeping check on each other BVR and the 'sweeper' being radioed that all are down before dropping in. In hindsight the sweeper should probably be a two person team. I've become a big believer in touring with radios in any group large enough to get split up with no less than one radio for any 2 person team. But whats ideal and what others bring is not always the same even when you request it in advance. 

Logged

lightweight, cheap, strong... pick 2
T. Eastman
Member
Offline

Posts: 412


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #22 on: 12/23/11, 08:46 PM »

Perhaps we should practice getting out of tree wells more often...
Logged
kneel turner
Member
Offline

Posts: 639


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #23 on: 12/24/11, 10:37 AM »

Great discussion.  I have no connection to this video, just came across it on the web.  I thought it was interesting just to see the predicament a rider could find themselves in if inverted in a void.  So for me, it doesn't really matter how or why this skier was upside down in a tree well.  Even if this was totally enacted, it still illustrates to me the "Holy Sh#t, how the hell would I get out of that?"
Monday morning quarterback response is:
-Communicate to the victim, assess airway (determines aggressiveness/injury considerations)
-Communicate the problem to partners, deploy shovels
-make sure rescuers don't knock more snow on victim
-have a plan to dig and recover
-prepare for rewarming victim
-maintain airway as highest priority and reassess victim when extricated
-learn lesson, and ski away

And yeah, prevention is preferred.
Logged

No, I'm not a telephone solicitor.  I ski with my heels free.
ron j
Moderator
Offline

Posts: 2592


Re: Tree well inversion rescue video
« Reply #24 on: 12/24/11, 01:07 PM »


Since he was the author of the data inTree Well & Deep Snow Safety, I queried Paul Baugher on the topic to find out if he any more info on the topic since the publishing of the piece.

Here is reply:
“Ron,
Thanks for the interest. Here is my paper from 2008 that discusses some of the problems with rescue- see the results of the field experiment with live subjects. Also I updated the research this summer. We have designed a new brochure that is now available through the NSAA and we are in the midst of the redoing the treewelldeepsnowsafety.com website. It will contain more information on rescue including the importance of tunneling for the airway. By the way we are changing the label to Snow Immersion Suffocation.
Though this is primarily a ski area problem (3% of U.S. cases have occurred in the backcountry) your folks are alpine skiers as well. Please post this on TAY.
Best Regards,
Paul Baugher
Risk Manager, Boyne Western Operations/ Director, Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol
Owner, International Mountain Guides”


Here is a link to Paul’s article: 2008 ISSW Snow Immersion Paper

Logged

"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
Pages: [1] 2  All | Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Login with username, password and session length

Thank you to our sponsors!
click to visit our sponsor: Feathered Friends
Feathered Friends
click to visit our sponsor: Marmot Mountain Works
Marmot Mountain Works
click to visit our sponsor: Second Ascent
Second Ascent
click to visit our sponsor: American Alpine Institute
American Alpine Institute
click to visit our sponsor: Pro Guiding Service
Pro Guiding Service
Contact turns-all-year.com

Turns All Year Trip Reports ©2001-2010 Turns All Year LLC. All Rights Reserved

The opinions expressed in posts are those of the poster and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of Trip Reports administrators or Turns All Year LLC


Turns All Year Trip Reports | Powered by SMF 1.0.6.
© 2001-2005, Lewis Media. All Rights Reserved.