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Author Topic: ABS - avalanche airbag  (Read 1829 times)
Charles
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ABS - avalanche airbag
« on: 01/02/03, 10:05 AM »

I recently received an email from Heinrich, who thought I would like to know about an avalanche safety system known as "avalanche airbag" or "ABS (air bag system)". The idea behind it seems to be to keep the skier on the surface of the avalanche and thereby prevent burial, thus greatly increasing the chances of survival. I think it is a worthwhile enough idea that I want to include here the info which I have gotten so that each skier can look into the system, if they desire, and form their own opinion. I am not endorsing this system in any way, nor do I stand to benefit from its promotion.

Here are some things Heinrich wrote to me:
"Last year on a trip to Europe I purchased an ABS - avalanche bag safety system. I think that this goes beyond what we have seen so far in the US - it actually is trying to prevent a burial. I have no interest in marketing this product, I make my living as a Civil Engineer in construction."

"I bought this bag - the "plus" model in Munich last year. It is not cheap, but I think it has its' value. The pack is very comfortable and exceptionally well built. At purchase they give you 1 extra cartridge to do a demo inflation at home - needless to say it works."

"The most important part is that the Swiss avalanche Institute performed a field test where they put up 10 "crash dummy" type figures with the inflated airbag system - together with 4 additional "dummies" with beacons but no bags. They then activated an avalanche by explosives above and filmed the full episode. Result was that all abs - bag dummies stayed on the surface while the 4 other got buried, and it took them more then 1/2 hour to locate and "rescue" these dummies. So, this is the story in a nutshell ... my gutfeeling as an Engineer tells me that this is a product which should be brought to our skiing communities attention - the choice to buy and use it is still in everybodys hand. But let's cut through the bull; we all have been in more than one situation where we have to admit that all the standard precautions - and experience won't do - the variables are still unpredictable. I have been ski - touring since I was 17 - thats now over 35 years. Many years without a beacon, and I am very well aware of it's limitations. When I informed myself about the abs system I came to the conclusion, that  - should I ever get into the situation - my survival chances are stacked in my favor. (at least there is hope...)"

It looks like the pack/airbag system is about $650 at Life-Link.

Here are some links:
http://www.abs-lawinenairbag.de/html/englisch/airbag/frame_air.htm (maunfacturer)
http://www.couloirmag.com/Articles/news/abs_us.htm
http://www.life-link.com/new.htm
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