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Every year tourists flock to the Appalachian, Rocky, and European mountain ranges for a chance to ski and snowboard down freshly powdered slopes.
If you’re planning on taking a trip to one of these winter wonderland locations, or perhaps you’re permanently moving to such a place, then you should be aware of the dangers of avalanches. No skier, snowboarder, or snowmobiler should go up the side of a mountain without an avalanche beacon. Depending on the intensity of the avalanche you might find yourself being able to hold on to a tree, rock, or other static fixture to help you survive. Sign up for Confessions of a Prepper newsletter to gain access to the latest survivalist news, tips, and tricks.
Avalanche airbags work through a process called inverse segregation or the "Brazilian Nut" effect. With some amazing survival statistics and a few high profile accidents, avalanche airbag packs are dramatically increasing in popularity.
Eric Dalzell and Ryan O'Connell testing airbag packs on the up track near Thompson Pass, AK. Some studies originally done by ABS and the Swiss government claimed 97 percent positive outcomes out of over 220 deployments. ABS has two 85L airbags that deploy on the sides of the pack, according to their studies this helps keep the wearer more horizontal in an attempt to spread your surface area out to help further increase your odds of not sinking into the slide. Credit: ABS">ABS has two 85L airbags that deploy on the sides of the pack, according to their studies this helps keep the wearer more horizontal in an attempt to spread your surface area out to help further increase your odds of not sinking into the slide. When we ask what kind of back-country skiing and snowboarding you will be doing we are referring to hell skiing, cat skiing, side-country, pure touring, ski mountaineering, hut-to-hut trips or a combination of these. With heli and cat skiers and snowboarders, you won't need to carry much, and having a smaller pack that rides with you better is more advantageous than one with more volume or pockets. Side-Country or "Slack-Country" generally refers to skiers and snowboarders who access the back-country or out-of-bounds zones via a ski resort. Back-country touring refers to skiers and snowboarders who go out for a whole day or longer and generally access the back-country by skinning. On the Gtockjigletscher Glacier below the mighty Matterhorn on the last day of the Haute route, a 6 day traverse through the central Alps from Chamonix to Zermatt. Credit: Ian Nicholson">On the Gtockjigletscher Glacier below the mighty Matterhorn on the last day of the Haute route, a 6 day traverse through the central Alps from Chamonix to Zermatt. For hut-to-hut and multi-day trips most of the features you want are similar to that of a day touring pack, with only a few small changes.
Compressed nitrogen is less affected by temperature and will perform better in colder temperatures than will compressed air.
The Best Avalanche Airbag Pack ReviewWe took the best and most popular avalanche airbags and tested them side-by-side.
Simulating survivors of a high mountain avalanche, Cody and Dave battle through waist-deep snow to get to lower elevations and possible rescue. He may feel at home on the London art scene but could Ekow Eshun, artistic director of the ICA and a keen snowboarder, cope with a snowslide? If you are caught in an avalanche you have a 95 per cent chance of survival – if you get help within 15 minutes. These kind of odds are at the forefront of my mind when I find myself buried up to my neck in snow on a remote slope somewhere in western Austria – even though it is only part of a training demonstration and help is readily to hand. One cubic metre of snow weighs 500kg and the feeling of helplessness engendered by having it piled on top of you is enough to induce rapid panic.
The Snow and Avalanche Awareness Camp programme was launched in Austria in 1997 in the hope of reducing the annual death toll. On a steeper slope higher up the mountain, such conditions could lead to an avalanche if the powder layer, unable to bond to the harder snow beneath, were to slide off down the mountain, taking the slab of denser, surface layer snow with it. If you haven’t tried camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota yet, you are missing out on one of nature’s finest experiences. You should try to visit this area before school lets out in the spring or after school is back in session in the fall. Due to the popularity of this area, you may find yourself competing with other campers for the few authorized campsites on a lake.
Given that there are a plethora of good surf spots in San Diego—and just up the coast in Orange County, or down the coast in Baja—indoor waves might seem superfluous, but, as Wave House claims, you can’t get barreled when it’s flat. Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, a survivor of February 2016 Siachin Glacier Avalanche on Indian Army post which claimed around ten lives, passed away. Six days after the disaster, Hunumanthappa (33) was found buried 25 feet under the snow, during the post-disaster rescue operations by the Indian Army. He was rescued from -45°Celsius temperature after an avalanche hit an Indian Army post in Siachen an altitude of 19,600 feet. His health was critical but survival news gave a chance to family members to celebrate his news of survival.
There are many like Koppad who have laid their life while serving the motherland in one way or the other.
British Muslim Woman Confined After Cabin Attendant Reports Her For ‘Suspicious Behavior.’ She Was Reading A Book!
Surrounded by a blanket of crisp, white snow is a picturesque way to spend your holiday, but as beautiful as those snowcapped mountains are there is a quiet threat of danger that constantly lurks in the seemingly innocuous background.
Avalanches occur when the snow-pack begins to weaken and there is some disturbance that causes the snow to break.

The first is a loose snow avalanche, which usually occurs on very steep terrain and begins with a teardrop-shaped mass that builds in momentum and ferocity the further it goes down the mountain.
Having something sturdy to grab hold of can keep you from becoming disoriented as the snow rushes over and around you.
Much like catching a wave and staying afloat in surfing, the same principal is in effect with avalanches.
Be familiar with the area and any recent weather activity that would make for avalanche conditions.
Below we look at the the technology and point out key things to look for when buying this key piece of back-country safety equipment. Inverse segregation is a law of physics where bigger particles work their way to the surface and smaller particles work their way to the bottom. Skeptics say that airbag packs will affect back-country enthusiasts' decision-making, prompting more risky behavior.
Choosing what you will be doing will highlight features to consider more important than others. Traverses like these its important to pack light, bring everything you need, and nothing you don't. One is volume for self supported trips like the Spearhead Traverse or hut-to-hut trips like the Haute Route. Another advantage of compressed nitrogen is that it can be stored in a smaller canister to help save space in your pack. For most people they are the most expensive backpack or piece of safety gear they will ever purchase.
Unfortunately, the average time for a helicopter rescue crew to arrive on the scene is 45 minutes, which gives you less than a 30 per cent likelihood of making it out alive. The camps, open to anyone aged over 14, take place on weekends at 16 resorts across western Austria including Mayrhofen, Kuhtai and Westendorf and are free – in the hope of encouraging participation, especially among young skiers and snowboarders who are thought to be least likely to heed the hazard signs posted on the edge of the piste. We begin with a morning of theory in which Robbie Schellander, our guide, talks us through the basic science of avalanches and the common risks involved in going off-piste.
We take out our collapsible shovels from our rucksacks and dig down until we reach the wet earth and grass beneath, exposing a metre high face of snow.
Above all, that means wearing a transceiver that sends out a constant radio signal of your location and can also pick up that signal from other nearby devices.
On our last afternoon, we hike up a mountain ridge and stand looking into an empty valley below. You need a large capacity canoe pack, compact cooking gear, sleeping gear, a lightweight tent, as well as other equipment. You will be on your own with no car to jump in and run for supplies, and probably no phone service (even if you have a cell phone) to call for some help. Avalanches usually happen after freshly fallen snow or rain, if there’s a sudden warming, or by skiers and snowmobilers. If you find yourself right on the edge of the creation of the break in the snow, then quickly move upslope to avoid being sucked down.
Avalanche beacons work by transmitting a radio frequency to a receiver or other beacons on, or around, the mountain. Try and keep your head up in the air and kick and pump your arms with the direction of the snow to help keep you afloat.
Be sure to check out our Avalanche Airbag Review where we put the 13 top models in side-by-side tests and compare them with over 100 days of touring. By wearing and deploying your airbag, it makes you an even bigger "particle" than you would have been otherwise.
But that's also what people said about beacons when they first appeared and now they are considered standard back-country tools.
Most cat and heli skiers either choose airbag vests or very small packs, generally under 15L but up to 25L if you want your airbag pack to be a little more versatile. While some people occasionally use smaller than 15L packs, this takes some practice and will require some sacrifice. The big disadvantage of compressed nitrogen is that it is more expensive and difficult to refill. While kicking and shoving creates marginally more space for you in the snow, in the thinner atmosphere of the mountains it proves quickly exhausting. Tuition, day lift passes and specialist equipment are all included, courtesy of corporate sponsors and the regional tourist board. Robbie points out the different strata it contains, including a 15cm tier of soft powder sandwiched between two layers of more densely packed snow. But the camp’s main lesson is that all avalanches are potentially lethal and best avoided. If you are skiing with a group and only one is left standing after an avalanche, the transceiver could lead them to their buried colleagues. From there, we can see the potential danger areas on the mountain face and even the sites of recent small avalanches. So, when you are settled into your campsite, all you hear are the waves washing against the shore and the loons singing on the lake. This type is a layer of snow that separates from the other layers of snow beneath it and shatters like glass. This is a riskier option as opposed to moving sideways because you’re brain might not be quick enough to process what’s happening around you, but if you’re able to take advantage of this method it can save your life.

The technology advancements over the last few years have allowed for these beacons to become extremely accurate. You’ll most likely be disoriented and you won’t know which way is up, so let some spit dribble onto your chin and see which way it falls.
You might find yourself in a situation where you’ll able to dig yourself out if you’ve stayed close enough to the top layer of snow during the avalanche. One thing you can do help increase your chances of survival is creating an air pocket for yourself. If you shake a box full of sand and rocks, the rocks will rise to the surface and the sand will work its way below. Many side-country skiers look for packs with a volume of 15-30L, though some go even smaller.
OutdoorGearLab friend Eric Dalzell used an ABS Powder 15 pack on more than half the touring days of a 15-day ski touring trip to Alaska's Chugach Range but it was a struggle. The ABS system works by puncturing the canister with a little copper disk so you need to replace the canister after each deployment. Although it is aimed primarily at Germans and Austrians, anyone can take part and the tutors speak excellent English. We follow a narrow line to avoid disturbing a heavy, steep bank of snow directly below us and drop into solitude and silence, the slope before us untouched and inviting.
Slab avalanches are the most dangerous and are responsible for ninety percent of avalanche deaths. The transmission your beacon sends will help rescuers pinpoint your location before they start digging you out. Whichever direction it goes down start digging in the opposite direction, this way you’ll be digging towards the surface instead of deeper into the snow.
The biggest problem you’ll face when buried in the snow will be suffering from asphyxiation.
Airbag packs hopefully won't affect a wearer's decision-making with respect to risk and users hopefully won't ski or snowboard an area they normally wouldn't. Was the avalanche very small, were they saved by their companions with beacons, were they straight up just lucky?
Most side-country skiers want a pack big enough be able to carry all of their equipment, a few extra layers and ideally have a pretty good diagonal ski or snowboard carry system. If you go on mutli-day ski tours to have fun, then skiing a long distance with a heavy pack tires your legs quickly, makes funky snow even worse and is not fun. Several back-country shops and heli ski operations offer a cartridge swap program for around $40-$70. By the time I am dug free only a few minutes have passed, but I am eager not to repeat the exercise.
Trees bend or snap in the face of an avalanche and they can actually help cause them by acting as points of weakness in the packed snow on a mountain slope. The fishing is fantastic and offers prime walleye, northern pike, bass, and lake trout fishing. With speeds that can exceed 187 mph, the sheer force of an avalanche barreling down on you can kill you.
Cupping your hands over your mouth while you’re being thrown through the snow will create an air pocket that you would be able to survive on for around thirty minutes. Sometimes people think that the airbag helps you "float" based on the same principle that would cause an airbag float in water. It is a salutary reminder that we place ourselves in inherent danger each time we venture into the mountains. Some speculate that number is higher, 1 in 3, in North America because we do a lot more tree skiing. This concept is easier for most people to grasp but it is not the the same principle as applied to airbag packs.
Trauma is often a result from hitting a tree, going over a cliff or some other kind of high speed impact, in which case most airbag packs will generally have little effect on the outcome.
Compressed air canisters can be refilled at most scuba or paintball shops and even some fire stations for a cost of around $5-$20. Also, with ABS if you can't find a place to swap your cartridge it can take a disappointing 3-6 weeks for them to return it.
This is a result of breathing out carbon dioxide to the point that it completely surrounds your head and you aren't able to get enough oxygen. ABS, Ortovox and The North Face use compressed nitrogen and Mammut, BCA and Snowpulse use compressed air.
In a American Avalanche Association study that included 422 completely buried victims but not people who died from trauma, it was found that when people buried in an avalanche are dug up in the first 15 minutes they have just over a 90 percent survival rate, at 20 minutes it's closer to 60 percent, at 30 minutes it's below 40 percent. There are several studies going on now to amass statistics on how many people are saved by airbag packs. Snow safety professionals say that out of 100 avalanche fatalities, somewhere between 35 to 70 more people would have survived.

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