Saturday, March 05, 2011

Avalanche School: Somewhere in Between Park City and Canyons Resort, UT

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course.

Once a skier is buried, you've got about 11-12 minutes before he suffocates. Working in teams of 2 or more is a lot more effective than going it alone. One person mans the transceiver, one mans the probe, and they either transition to digging or are joined by another digger(s).

The key is practice and technique. Transceivers and probes are tricky to use, and nobody ever explained the nuances to me. I've owned my avalanche transceiver for 5 years and before today, I couldn't find a transmitter shoved up my own ass. After one day of extensive drilling, teams of three or four were able to dig out three simulated victims spread out across a simulated debris field the size of 4 basketball courts in <= 10 minutes.

Teachers and students digging a snow pit. Dig down two meters and you can see evidence of every storm, thaw, and weather variation since autumn.

Lee, the lead guide / instructor, explains how to read the snow pit wall like tea leaves. Will a slide break loose where we're skiing today?

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