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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The continued discusssion................

A week or so ago a buddy of mine and his friends were caught in a slide.  Three of them were dragged a good ways, two of them seriously hurt.

More than a month previous on my first day in Chamonix two good friends were buried and went at least a 1/4 mile in the run out.  Both ended up on the surface, unhurt for the most part but not unscathed.  Scared the shit out of me watching as they went by and set the tone (likely a good thing) for the following six weeks in Chamonix.  All that literally a few hundred meters from the lift terminal and we were on foot!.

Look closely and you can still see the one meter crown from the slide just a few minutes before.

The list of my friends that have died in the mountains is highlighted by the deaths in avalanches.  Most have died in avalanches.   It bears repeating...most have died in avalanches.

My preference is simply to not ski in avalanche terrain these days.  Easier said than done if you want to b-c ski in the NW or Canada.  In Chamonix we skied heavily crevassed glacier terrain on a almost daily basis.  Same place the local mtn rescue was "averaging 10 people a day off the Vallee Blanche. Crevasse falls, breaks, fatigue."  All that "off piste".

I am not a big fan of skiing in crevassed terrain either.   I generally try to avoid that as well.

As you might imagine that instigated some serious discussion and disagreements.  Becasue if I wasn't climbing I was going to ski and do it up high on the glaciers in the Mtn Blanc Massif.   

My idea is "don't ski in places that you could easily die".  So knowing the terrain, be cautious and be aware and honest about your own skills are key.

My idea of what I "might die on."  May not agree with what, "you might die on".

I hadn't seriously skied in 10 years or so until this winter.  That after working on skis for 20+ years in my previous life.   But I have been thinking about it for a while now.   To be honest even with all the experience, miles on skis and avalanche schools and snow studies, snow still simply scares me.  I don't spend enough time out in the weather and snow these days and know much of what I don't know.  Which is why it scares me.   That got me thinking, "should keep my head buried in the sand" or actually organize my kit to ski in relative safety on questionable terrain and most importantly get out more and become aware of the situation in the field.

Depending on the scenario the kit would generally include combos of transcievers,  the Avalung, shovel, rope, harness, hardware, probe and a rescue sled.  I own a Brooks Range Eskimo Rescue sled these days as part of that kit.  And to date I haven't been required to used it, thankfully.  But more and more I am thinking the entire kit just might be better if you are going to ski in avi terrain or just simply out in the B-C skiing.

Be sure to dbl click the videos to watch them on a full screen.
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bill123 said...

Dane - Don't know if it's my computer or not, but the right side of the above videos is cu off - Bill

Dane said...

Bill, sorry my fault..I should have added the dbl click note for the videos previous. Let me know if that works for you.