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.
05/28/17, 09:33 AM

Support Snohomish County's
Helicopter Rescue Team
 
Trip Reports Sponsor
American Alpine Institute
American Alpine Institute
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
| | |-+  How effective are avalanche airbags?
:
« previous next »
Pages: [1] 2  All | Go Down Print
Author Topic: How effective are avalanche airbags?  (Read 4338 times)
Donnelly_M
Member
Offline

Posts: 147


How effective are avalanche airbags?
« on: 03/12/17, 05:59 PM »

Considering I do a lot of solo skiing and feel a need to start switching my skiing up by doing more off piste skiing, I figure my best option is to have an avalanche airbag. How effective are these devices? Could they also help protect the individual from a massive fall over rocks?  From this video, it looks like a worthy investment. I figure with no wife and or kids, I might as well start skiing as such!lol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZUau1J5vig
« Last Edit: 03/12/17, 06:11 PM by Donnelly_M » Logged
freeski
Member
Offline

Posts: 529


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #1 on: 03/20/17, 10:26 AM »

Considering I do a lot of solo skiing and feel a need to start switching my skiing up by doing more off piste skiing, I figure my best option is to have an avalanche airbag. How effective are these devices? Could they also help protect the individual from a massive fall over rocks?  From this video, it looks like a worthy investment. I figure with no wife and or kids, I might as well start skiing as such!lol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZUau1J5vig
An airbag deployment most likely saved the life of a skier in that tunnel creak avalanche.

i don't use one because of the added pack weight and a bad back.There's also the question of taking greater risks due to having one and perceived avalanche protection (see risk homostasis theory)

i am trying to get a local designer intertested in designing a light weight air tight pack that you would blow up, using lung power or light weight volume pump, before you descend.

the idea is to inflate the pack volume after you empty the pack of your descent kit.

 An inflated pack may also help with tree well falls and object  hits, as well as avys.

I don't know if it would  have the volume of an airbag however.

« Last Edit: 03/20/17, 11:00 AM by freeski » Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
Charlie Hagedorn
Member
Offline

Posts: 1761


WWW
Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #2 on: 03/20/17, 11:26 AM »

Here's a good way to get an introduction into one of the better studies on the subject:

https://www.wildsnow.com/18262/avalanche-airbag-statistics-metrics/
Logged

sgertz
5Member
Offline

Posts: 23


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #3 on: 03/20/17, 12:46 PM »

I have a BCA Float 42 that I use most days I go out, and I love it. However, I will say that when I consider terrain, I still ski conservatively. My understanding is that airbag packs don't protect you from hitting trees, or being swept off of cliffs. The only airbag packs that do anything to protect you from trauma are the Mammut Protection packs, and they only protect your head. It's still very possible to get smashed into a tree, etc and break bones, or other sustain other injuries.

I believe most airbags inflate to a volume of approx. 100-150L
Logged
aaron_wright
Member
Online

Posts: 573


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #4 on: 03/20/17, 03:36 PM »

An airbag deployment most likely saved the life of a skier in that tunnel creak avalanche.
Do you think so? She wasn't found very far from the other skiers that died from unsurvivable trauma. Do you think that she might have been extremely lucky?
Logged
rlsg
Member
Offline

Posts: 511


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #5 on: 03/20/17, 06:06 PM »

Seems there was a fatality from avalanche at Crested Butte back a year or so?  The person had an airbag pack on and apparently the avalanche total destroyed the bag.  Probably works more times than not I'm guessing, though...
Logged
BCSchonwald
5Member
Offline

Posts: 20


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #6 on: 03/20/17, 07:39 PM »

The airbags are effective when there is little to no consequences of trauma(trees, over cliffs, into rocks..). They are effective in preventing full burial and the only tool that can help with that.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24909367
Logged
flowing alpy
Member
Offline

Posts: 1160


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #7 on: 03/21/17, 06:30 AM »

That's gonna mess with the aerodynamics
in pursuit of your Olympic downhill dream
imho.
Logged
gravitymk
Member
Offline

Posts: 484


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #8 on: 03/21/17, 11:02 AM »

The airbags are effective when there is little to no consequences of trauma(trees, over cliffs, into rocks..). They are effective in preventing full burial and the only tool that can help with that.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24909367

Terrain traps are a known exception to this statement.
« Last Edit: 03/21/17, 05:31 PM by gravitymk » Logged
freeski
Member
Offline

Posts: 529


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #9 on: 03/21/17, 11:04 AM »

Do you think so? She wasn't found very far from the other skiers that died from unsurvivable trauma. Do you think that she might have been extremely lucky?
yea- she was lucky, but the airbag may have kept her near the surface and therefore she may have avoided the main energy of the washing machine effect of being way down in the debris flow.

hard to know for sure, but i believe that she was found just under the surface.

i do believe, however, that once a person becomes involved in any accident, luck plays a role in the outcome.

Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
aaron_wright
Member
Online

Posts: 573


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #10 on: 03/21/17, 11:55 AM »

yea- she was lucky, but the airbag may have kept her near the surface and therefore she may have avoided the main energy of the washing machine effect of being way down in the debris flow.

hard to know for sure, but i believe that she was found just under the surface.

i do believe, however, that once a person becomes involved in any accident, luck plays a role in the outcome.


Two of the three fatalities were near or on the surface. The woman was completely buried except for her hands and her bag was deflated.
Logged
freeski
Member
Offline

Posts: 529


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #11 on: 03/21/17, 09:10 PM »

Two of the three fatalities were near or on the surface. The woman was completely buried except for her hands and her bag was deflated.


also her head was above the surface according an article that i just read. Like i said, sounds like the airbag played a part in her survival, but hard to know for sure.

i think there is little doubt that safety gear reduces the chance of serious injury during an accident. Helmets, seat beats, ejection seats, life vests etc.

Your odds improve (Chance of luck on your side) .

A long time ago, a helmet helped me to avoid serious injury or death from a stalled sail, windsurfing mast hit to the head in 45- 50 mph winds while attempting a port side jump off a wave ramp.

While floating in the water with a flotation vest, i saw flashing stars and was out of it for a few minutes.
« Last Edit: 03/21/17, 09:18 PM by freeski » Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
pipedream
Member
Offline

Posts: 595


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #12 on: 03/21/17, 11:13 PM »

Avy airbags are a last resort tool that by the time you've deployed you've bypassed several red flags and gone somewhere you shouldn't have been. I have one, it doesn't influence my decision-making on terrain based on conditions and what we've been observing. I still tour often with folks who don't have an airbag system and that also helps us make smart decisions.

About the only thing it's changed is drop ordering - usually someone with an airbag goes first and does any necessary ski-cutting since it provides a slightly higher chance survival / protection should the unforseeable happen
Logged

Moral of story is don't ski when you can snowboard
aaron_wright
Member
Online

Posts: 573


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #13 on: 03/22/17, 07:04 AM »



also her head was above the surface according an article that i just read. Like i said, sounds like the airbag played a part in her survival, but hard to know for sure.
Which article? The accident report and her account say that her head was locked in the snow and she was able to brush some snow off her face, only because her arms were not buried, but could not move her head. Did you look at the pictures of the gully the victims traveled through? Her bag was deflated when she was extracted. I think she's just extremely lucky she avoided he trauma that killed her partners.

I'm not saying avalanche bags won't help you if you're caught in open terrain and I think they are worth carrying if you spend a lot of time touring above treeline.
Logged
freeski
Member
Offline

Posts: 529


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #14 on: 03/22/17, 09:24 AM »

Avy airbags are a last resort tool that by the time you've deployed you've bypassed several red flags and gone somewhere you shouldn't have been. I have one, it doesn't influence my decision-making on terrain based on conditions and what we've been observing. I still tour often with folks who don't have an airbag system and that also helps us make smart decisions.

About the only thing it's changed is drop ordering - usually someone with an airbag goes first and does any necessary ski-cutting since it provides a slightly higher chance survival / protection should the unforseeable happen

You bring up an interesting point about having a partner with an airbag and the influence upon group dynamics.

the thing with heuristics is that a person or group may not know that they are 'under the influence' of human factors until after an accident occurs.

it's interesting that the guy with the airbag goes first.

If you really want to know if your group is making conservative choices, go out sometime but leave all the safety gear in the car.



it's worth reading that article again on that tunnel creek avy.

Two skiers split off from the main group because they didn't like the group line choice and the group size.

So that may indicate an awareness of those  human factor influences prior to the descent.

However, one of those skiers mentioned that in hindsight, he didn't express those concerns to the group as whole. 

He was kicking  himself because he realized he was also being influenced by other human factors, by not speaking up.

aaron-i believe it was 'tunnel vision' outside magizine article that mentioned that she saw blue skis when she came to a rest.   
« Last Edit: 03/22/17, 09:57 AM by freeski » Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
gravitymk
Member
Offline

Posts: 484


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #15 on: 03/22/17, 10:47 AM »

Avy airbags are a last resort tool that by the time you've deployed you've bypassed several red flags and gone somewhere you shouldn't have been. I have one, it doesn't influence my decision-making on terrain based on conditions and what we've been observing. I still tour often with folks who don't have an airbag system and that also helps us make smart decisions.

About the only thing it's changed is drop ordering - usually someone with an airbag goes first and does any necessary ski-cutting since it provides a slightly higher chance survival / protection should the unforseeable happen

Gear should not influence travel/terrain selection choices period.
If you are making a choice based upon the idea that you are carrying gear to mitigate risk, then you are already playing against a staked deck. Better to look for reasons not to go, than the other way around.
Logged
pipedream
Member
Offline

Posts: 595


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #16 on: 03/22/17, 02:20 PM »

If we left all the safety gear in the car, we wouldn't leave the parking lot.

My comment about terrain selection stands. I don't go anywhere I wouldn't without an airbag just because I or anyone else has one. This thread reminds me of that idiot on TGR who used to post about the East Vail Chutes and how he felt it was his civic duty to cut and ride them to keep them safe for the newbies who end-up back there underequipped and underinformed about the dangers of the near-resort backcountry. He stated numerous times that he felt safe doing that solo because of his airbag and avalung systems.

You can't cure stupid, but you can refuse to follow it into the BC.
Logged

Moral of story is don't ski when you can snowboard
freeski
Member
Offline

Posts: 529


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #17 on: 03/22/17, 03:54 PM »

If we left all the safety gear in the car, we wouldn't leave the parking lot.

My comment about terrain selection stands. I don't go anywhere I wouldn't without an airbag just because I or anyone else has one. This thread reminds me of that idiot on TGR who used to post about the East Vail Chutes and how he felt it was his civic duty to cut and ride them to keep them safe for the newbies who end-up back there underequipped and underinformed about the dangers of the near-resort backcountry. He stated numerous times that he felt safe doing that solo because of his airbag and avalung systems.

You can't cure stupid, but you can refuse to follow it into the BC.

no need to call anyone an idiot here or at any other site. Not understanding your take away there. 

You're right, for you, better to let the guy with the airbag  go first.

they're cute when they still have their spots on. :-)




 
Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
Scotsman
Member
Offline

Posts: 3388


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #18 on: 03/22/17, 06:31 PM »

An airbag deployment most likely saved the life of a skier in that tunnel creak avalanche.

i don't use one because of the added pack weight and a bad back.There's also the question of taking greater risks due to having one and perceived avalanche protection (see risk homostasis theory)

i am trying to get a local designer intertested in designing a light weight air tight pack that you would blow up, using lung power or light weight volume pump, before you descend.

the idea is to inflate the pack volume after you empty the pack of your descent kit.

 An inflated pack may also help with tree well falls and object  hits, as well as avys.

I don't know if it would  have the volume of an airbag however.



Good you are innovating... and Im not putting your idea down but avy air bags do not work on the theory of flotation( a common and understandable mistake)... they work on the theory of substantially larger mass that causes bigger objects to rise to the top during the flow of the avalanche..not my opinion...science...google it. Your inflated pack would have to somehow increase the pack volume by a factor of at least 3 over a normal pack to be the equivalent of an air bag....something to think about.

 http://www.snowbigdeal.com/avalanche-safety-gear/avalanche-airbags/how-avalanche-airbags-work.html
« Last Edit: 03/22/17, 06:41 PM by Scotsman » Logged

Chief Etiquette Officer of TAY and TAY's #1 Poster
Poet Laureate of TAY.
Chairman and Founder of FOTAY( Friends of TAY)
Moderator of the moderators.
"Most Brilliant Move" of the 11/12 ski season
" Knows what he is talking about"
Expert Typist.
Crystal Whore
" Scotsman may be correct"....Mikerolfs
Scotsman
Member
Offline

Posts: 3388


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #19 on: 03/22/17, 06:36 PM »

Considering I do a lot of solo skiing and feel a need to start switching my skiing up by doing more off piste skiing, I figure my best option is to have an avalanche airbag. How effective are these devices? Could they also help protect the individual from a massive fall over rocks?  From this video, it looks like a worthy investment. I figure with no wife and or kids, I might as well start skiing as such!lol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZUau1J5vig

They have proved to be effective in certain circumstances.
They are heavy and depending on the type you buy, can be a pain in the ass to travel with and get refills.
Not sure the electric versions are fully proven yet and Im waiting for the next cycle of electric ones before I update my current snowpulse bag.
I like that ones that offer head protection via the inflated bag which is why I bought the one I have.
I'm sure you can figure out the heuristic traps they can produce without being lectured to.

If you can afford it...why not?

Check Wildsnow for the definitive review.
https://www.wildsnow.com/5014/avalanche-airbag-backpack-overview/
« Last Edit: 03/22/17, 06:48 PM by Scotsman » Logged

Chief Etiquette Officer of TAY and TAY's #1 Poster
Poet Laureate of TAY.
Chairman and Founder of FOTAY( Friends of TAY)
Moderator of the moderators.
"Most Brilliant Move" of the 11/12 ski season
" Knows what he is talking about"
Expert Typist.
Crystal Whore
" Scotsman may be correct"....Mikerolfs
gravitymk
Member
Offline

Posts: 484


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #20 on: 03/22/17, 08:01 PM »

My comment about terrain selection stands.

Your propensity for the need to be "right' is in and of it's self a heuristic trap.
You don't know what you don't know.
« Last Edit: 03/22/17, 08:07 PM by gravitymk » Logged
freeski
Member
Offline

Posts: 529


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #21 on: 03/22/17, 08:40 PM »

Good you are innovating... and Im not putting your idea down but avy air bags do not work on the theory of flotation( a common and understandable mistake)... they work on the theory of substantially larger mass that causes bigger objects to rise to the top during the flow of the avalanche..not my opinion...science...google it. Your inflated pack would have to somehow increase the pack volume by a factor of at least 3 over a normal pack to be the equivalent of an air bag....something to think about.

 http://www.snowbigdeal.com/avalanche-safety-gear/avalanche-airbags/how-avalanche-airbags-work.html
yes, i understand the principle. When my wife makes granola, i shake the container and the big honey coated nuts come to the surface.

Another poster mentioned the 100-150L volume, but 40L volume with no added weight is better than nothing for the reasons i mentioned. My inflated ego would add another 15L. ;-) 

Beats my empty box wine bladder idea. :-) rock on bro, never mentioned floatation, only volume. 
« Last Edit: 03/22/17, 09:17 PM by freeski » Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
Scotsman
Member
Offline

Posts: 3388


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #22 on: 03/22/17, 09:16 PM »

My inflated ego would add another 15L. ;-) 

Don't be so modest.... Much more than that Wink
Im heading to Haines tomorrow to inflate my own ego and will be a heli- fan boy for a few days.
I'll let you know how the guides stack up compared to our beloved NCH guides.
Interestingly enough they provide you with a mandatory avy air bag pack and a mandatory harness.
Hope the weather cooperates.
Logged

Chief Etiquette Officer of TAY and TAY's #1 Poster
Poet Laureate of TAY.
Chairman and Founder of FOTAY( Friends of TAY)
Moderator of the moderators.
"Most Brilliant Move" of the 11/12 ski season
" Knows what he is talking about"
Expert Typist.
Crystal Whore
" Scotsman may be correct"....Mikerolfs
freeski
Member
Offline

Posts: 529


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #23 on: 03/22/17, 09:45 PM »

Don't be so modest.... Much more than that Wink
Im heading to Haines tomorrow to inflate my own ego and will be a heli- fan boy for a few days.
I'll let you know how the guides stack up compared to our beloved NCH guides.
Interestingly enough they provide you with a mandatory avy air bag pack and a mandatory harness.
Hope the weather cooperates.


Have a great trip. Ask them about the mandatory reporting of near-misses and how they handle that. Is it the clients business?

They'd have to stack up against the recent nch public disclosure of my friends near-miss.

 

 
Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
Chamois
Member
Offline

Posts: 177


Re: How effective are avalanche airbags?
« Reply #24 on: 03/28/17, 11:31 AM »

There was a good presentation on this subject a couple years ago at the NW Avy summit at UW - I've looked online for it but could not find it.  One of the difficulties in trying to calculate a statistical advantage (or not) of using air bags is trying to find avy events where there were folks with and without airbags AND the individuals were subject to similar conditions.

If I remember the conclusion correctly it was that air bags did increase your chance of survival by less than 20% - so as usual it depends on how and where you ski.

There were some not very good examples - some skiers that did have bags, for various reasons, did not deploy them.   And in two examples skiers undid the crotch strap as it was uncomfortable, got caught in an avy, and deployed their air bag.  But they died because the bag pulled off their shoulders w/o the crotch strap.  Jesus - if you are going to carry the dang thing use it as directed!
Logged
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.