Another Inbounds Avalanche: Solitude - 2 patrollers no one hurt

Discussion in 'General Skiing' started by Decreed_It, Feb 8, 2019.

  1. Decreed_It

    Decreed_It I'd rather be skiing Skier

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  2. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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  3. dbostedo

    dbostedo Asst. Gathermeister-- Jackson Hole 2020 Moderator

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  4. Andy Mink

    Andy Mink I am a half fast skier. Moderator Pugski Ski Tester

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    @Philpug and I went to the lift that services that area but it was closed. We figured avy control. Glad they're ok.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
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  5. CalG

    CalG Out on the slopes Skier

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    With two patrol caught, it would be an easy assumption that the terrain was being evaluated.
     
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  6. Analisa

    Analisa Out on the slopes Skier

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    AIARE is pretty standardized, so I always recommend going with a guide you you jive with from a communication standpoint if you've taken other classes or clinics from an instructor who's an avy 1 instructor. In the absence of that, put yourself in a good learning environment - some people like the hut trips where they're not trying to cram in the classroom portion after work. Other friends say that they were distracted by doing the cat skiing & hut thing to be really engaged in the material.

    If you're strictly learning for inbounds riding, I thought SAFE AS was a fantastic clinic & they opened it up to be co-ed this past year. Tailored to strong inbounds riders who want to ski the resort with their own lens for safety and lays the groundwork for people considering backcountry terrain. The material is totally in line with AIARE (the lead instructor, Lel Tone, is fully certified to teach AIARE classes, guides in Alaska, and a 25+ year Squaw Valley patroller), but a little more tailored to the inbounds rider. AIARE1 tends to assume you're going to backcountry ski (and a setup or snowshoes is required for the fieldwork). SAFE AS teaches a lot of the classroom portion, skips any of the pit digging and snow testing, and then runs really similar rescue training & drills. (I did my AIARE 1 ~4 years ago and SAFE AS was the first place I ever went through an inbounds rescue sceanario. Super eye opening & I learned a lot from their team).
     
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  7. Nathanvg

    Nathanvg Getting on the lift Skier

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  8. Mike King

    Mike King AKA Habacomike Instructor

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    Becoming better educated about snow science is not a bad thing particularly if you ski in areas with unstable snowpacks or in storm conditions. And if you become tempted to go into the side country, you might have a bit more of a clue about the risks and hazards you’ll be encountering.
     
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  9. Yo Momma

    Yo Momma Out on the slopes Skier

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    Can anyone point us in the direction of any reputable online courses for the various levels of the classroom portion of avy training?
     
  10. Mike King

    Mike King AKA Habacomike Instructor

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    https://avtraining.org/
     
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  11. Yo Momma

    Yo Momma Out on the slopes Skier

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    Thanks for the link! :) Excellent course and very thorough listing of actual physical courses. I'm not finding direct access to an online classroom option on their website.
     
  12. Mike King

    Mike King AKA Habacomike Instructor

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    I don’t think there are any. You do need some time in the snow to dig a pit and gain some understanding of snow structure as well as travel in avalanche terrain, slope assessment, trip planning, and decision making. Not to mention beacon search, probing, and extraction. If you sign up for an AIARE or Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) course, there will be an online portion to complete before the course.

    If you just want to learn a bit more about the subject but don’t have the time to take a course, pick up a copy of Bruce Tremper’s “Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain.” Great read.

    Mike
     
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  13. Yo Momma

    Yo Momma Out on the slopes Skier

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    Thanks! That's what I'm looking for. A way to take the classroom portion of the course online, prior to taking the field course. Many of us live in remote areas and access would be more efficient time-wise as well as financially. That way when we get to the physical course in the snow we would have a more in-depth knowledge base. It would also serve to increase the interest in training, the overall general knowledge base, conversation and foster an overall interest in course work for all the untrained b/c novices, ski, split board, trekkers and snowmobile currently getting in over their heads.

    Is there a way to foster the expansion of access to this information given that the numbers of untrained b/c dwellers is expanding exponentially w/ the advent of all the new gear? Taking an Avy course needs to be as easy as buying new bindings, skins, skis, or boots. Avy training still seems very "boutique".... How do we encourage a more holistic approach that is more accessible?
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  14. Thread Starter
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    Decreed_It

    Decreed_It I'd rather be skiing Skier

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    I'd love to combine a multi-day intro to Avy safety/AT/hut trip and do it immersion style. No issues with the study/work/fun approach here, that sounds awesome to me.

    Seems we got off topic but this info is really good on avalanche courses and AT intros, thanks all.
     
  15. dbostedo

    dbostedo Asst. Gathermeister-- Jackson Hole 2020 Moderator

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    Something occurred to me, after seeing this thread again - and what I think is a bit of a melo-dramatic title - that maybe some people might not be aware of. (I wasn't a few years ago, until I read up a bit and spent some time at resorts.)

    In-bounds avalanches happen constantly, pretty much every time there's significant snowfall. The avalanches themselves are not unusual at any major western area. That's why they do avalanche mitigation, and intentionally cause many of the avalanches.

    The only unfortunate/newsworthy part here is that two patrollers were caught in it, and thankfully OK.

    Avalanches in open areas are what is surprising, and disconcerting (as patrol does a fantastic job making that chance very minimal); but just in-bounds avalanches themselves in closed areas are not at all surprising.
     
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  16. Thread Starter
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    Decreed_It

    Decreed_It I'd rather be skiing Skier

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    Yeah I think my impetus for this post was 1) nobody had posted about it yet, 2) Patrollers got caught in it, totally agree they were most likely doing active mitigation and 3) patroller deployed an airbag and it worked.

    Didn't mean to sound alarmist. I've really started paying attention to in bounds avalanches - closed, open, any time of day, in the past two seasons and this one caught my attention. Seems to be more frequent this year, but, duh, it's a way better (or, probably more accurate, more voluminous) snow season than last year.

    If I could Edit the post title, I would, and tone it down, especially since this went all awesome with avy course recommendations.
     
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  17. SBrown

    SBrown Steve Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    The only news here is that it made the news.
     
  18. Analisa

    Analisa Out on the slopes Skier

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    That’s a great question - and a difficult one to answer in terms of how. AIARE has to be taught by a guide who’s certified (and the process is quite rigorous). Folks I know who teach also earn their income working as forecasters for recreational use or avy forecasting/control for DOT, climbing guides, and ski patrol. They live in places where their skills are transferable, there’s a critical mass of students to run courses through the winter, and locations where they can easily teach the on-snow portion of the class, which accounts for 2/3 days of the coursework.

    The other piece I’ll note is that avy knowledge is hard to build no matter where you live. Note that’s different than accessing education. My forecaster/instructor friend always says “backcountry users have a lifelong apprenticeship in snow,” which is totally dorky, but totally true. I learned a lot in my AIARE. I’ve learned even more since, with each refresher and trip planning session and day spent on the snow. Likewise, I appreciate that AIARE isn’t designed for efficiency. It’s designed for efficacy. My classroom portion was really interactive and I had a lot of questions that couldn't have been clarified with a video, nor could my guides ask me questions to test my understanding. And that rigor is important for people like me who put a lot of weight on formal avy education when assessing potential partners. My life depends on their assessment and rescue skills. I don’t want that education to be quick & dirty. It's a lot of time and the price definitely gave me sticker shock, but in hindsight, I wish I had gotten shittier gear for my setup and put the difference towards a top line beacon, a float bag, and a guided day or two in winter after my AIARE 1 where I could plan my own tour and have them along as "backup" for feedback about my decision making (the first few tours are still really intimidating after a class. A few friends mentioned that they just came out of their AIARE scared as hell to tour on their own).

    That being said, I agree that there's a huge gap between the free hour long avalanche awareness seminars and putting 3 days and $1000+ towards tuition and safety gear. Here are a few of my favorite "tweener" resources:

    -Avalanche Canada has an incredible deep dive on the Cherry Bowl Rescue and the resources in Chapter 5 are top notch, especially their online tutorial.

    -+1 to Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. The Avalanche Handbook is also a solid choice, and if you're a visual person, the Allen & Mike guides have a lot of illustrations.

    -BCA has a really huge library of tutorials and case studies. I really like the Send + Return podcast. There are few people I admire as much as Lel Tone and she's an incredible teacher.

    -Pick a forecast zone and read the forecast every day and check the weather for the zone. Look up any of the pieces you don't understand. Then start ballparking the avalanche hazard based on the weather forecast. It's super helpful to follow the snowpack through the season to really understand its weaknesses, and being able to estimate the forecast is super helpful because the avy forecast is based on the weather forecast, and the weather forecast isn't always accurate. It's also helpful for lodge trips or traverses where the daily forecast isn't accessible.

    -Find a mentor (regardless of how much coursework you end up doing, there's always someone who knows more and has more experience). Find your local hiking, outdoor, and backcountry ski communities - either online or in person. I've worked with a handful or two of women from a women's outdoor group I'm in, but I've also had a few women hit me up through my Instagram. I found a few on Tinder, but I don't recommend it. At some point, they'll all be booting up in the same parking lot on a Saturday morning, despite there being *plenty* of other places in Washington to ski. Finding mentors is much, much easier when you yourself are dedicated to investing in education and doing as much as you can to pull your weight within a group. A decent number of people are willing to take out a newbie on a low-risk tour to get their feet under them with their gear, but most are more willing to invest time in mentoring you if you have a class on the calendar or at least plans to take it that season.

    -SAFE AS is only taught at a few resorts each year, but is a one-day classroom + rescue lesson that's pretty low cost. It's all inbounds, so there's no extra gear to get and Lel usually brings extra rescue gear to help with the costs. It's the perfect amount of material for someone considering an Avy 1 or wanting to learn about safety inbounds.

    -Scholarships for AIARE 1 are out there and a surprising number aren't fully utilized each season!
     

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