College teams up for research project on avalanche safety

Students work with heli-skiing business to develop best practices for self-rescuing from tree wells

A joint research project between the College of the Rockies and a heli-skiing business has developed a best-practices guideline for safely extracating skiers caught in tree wells.

The College of the Rockies Mountain Adventure Skills Training program and CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures teamed up last year to research self-rescue techniques if a backcountry user is caught in a tree well.

“This research has resulted in best-practices guidelines for tree well incidents which will help to make the backcountry a safer place for all to enjoy,” said College of the Rockies MAST program coordinator, Brian Bell.

A tree well is an area of loose snow around the trunk of a tree that can cause serious injury or death if a skier or snowboarder falls into one. Tree wells can immobilize a backcountry user, who are largely unable to self-rescue, according to Canadian Ski Patrol statistics on tree well incidents.

Research was conducted in late 2017 and into 2018, which involved both classroom-based resesarch along with a four-day field exercise in Nakusp, where 22 mock rescues were simulated. Useful data was collected, such as surveying tree wells to determine depth, shape and orentiation around the tree trunk.

“This project required the perfect mix of skills from MAST students and focused on solving a real-world problem that is a concern for our students and for anyone who frequents the backcountry,” Bell said.

Rob Whelan, CMH Assistant Area Manager, CMH Kootenay says the partnership also helped develop safety instruction protocols for CMH staff and guests.

“The hard work and excellent preparation of the MAST students allowed us to collect a robust and unique dataset regarding tree well phenomena and to formalize a new tree well rescue technique that we can implement as part of our safety training,” said Whelan.

In the end, under Whelan’s direction, a ‘T’ Rescue system was identified, which demonstrated that the most effective rescue actions were a combination of digging, platform preparation, and pulling.

The final report was shared with the Canadian Avalanche Association at annual meetings in the Okanagan last year, as well as the Elk Valley snow avalanche workshop.

It was publsihed in the Avalanche Journal (vol. 118), while Bell also presented it during staff training for Retallack Catskiing.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Cranbrook Tritons prepare for international swim meet

Two local swimmers will compete against the best at the Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet

Cranbrook Eagles victorious in Rock Creek

Three Eagle boxers won their matches at Rumble in Rock Creek

‘Bike to School Challenge’ set for next week

Students encouraged to get on their bikes and ride to school between May 27-30

Kootenay youth substance use trending downward: survey

A bi-annual survey distributed to regional schools shows that youth substance use is decreasing

Cranbrook coalition aims to increase food recovery

Cranbrook produces an annual estimated 21 million pounds of food waste, according to the coalition

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

A pain in the pump

I have just returned from a quick drive across the province to… Continue reading

A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality: Parts I and II

Rev. Yme Woensdregt A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality: Part I June is… Continue reading

The exoneration of Poundmaker

There occurred a small but significant moment in Canadian history Thursday. The… Continue reading

Court to rule on B.C.’s pipeline permit law in crucial case for Trans Mountain

A panel of B.C. Court of Appeal judges has been mulling B.C.’s constitutional reference cas

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

Weed Warrior Frank: Dandelions

The Weed Warrior returns for 2019 with some helpful information on dandelions

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

Most Read