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Two fatalities in Niseko (late January 2013)


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In truth my gut reaction to this was "oh god, another thing to add to the list of ways the snow is trying to kill me!" I knew cracks existed of course. You just need to look at your own hill to see t

Well, the Finnish person apparently went through an open gate.   I think it would be useful if we knew some more details: were they alone, what was the cause of death (trauma, asphyxiation, exposure

Remember to keep the relative safety our sport in perspective. In Australia, only about 0.5% of snowsports participants need medical attention of any sort and as far as I know we have quite a high inj

Ive been chatting with a BC guide with a HEAP of experience and he mentioned another factor that often turns these sort of accidents from injuries to fatalities is snow immersion when snow falls into the crack/hole after the initial fall by the person, apparently not uncommon in these incidents. I do not mention this here to speculate that is what happened in these latest incidents, only to progress the discussion around emergemcy response and managment during such an incident.

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From avalanche report this morning:

 

 

 

According to data evaluation and observations, the general avalanche risk is low. Peak gates are scheduled to open at 9:30am. Follow the ski patrol instruction when stepping out of the gates.

 

Regrettable accidents of people falling in cracks are successively happening. Cracks are hardly visible from above and sometimes are hidden with a thin layer of snow. Many hazards are naturally present in the out of bounds areas, everyone who wants to enjoy skiing/riding these places must be conscious of the existence of these natural traps. The progress in the gears’ performance is only valuable when accompanied by the skier/rider’s skill improvement.

 

Niseko’s freedom and safety of out of bounds skiing/riding, as well as the vitalization of Niseko’s ski-tourism, can only be maintained by having a list of essential & honest Rules. Guides and village business people should realize that they are benefiting from the current Niseko Rule and should not make light of it. Ignorance is all for the worse. Have a nice day.

 

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They are correct in saying ignorance is all for the worse, trouble is getting the education across to the masses who venture out the gates to find that untouched nirvana. It is not 'ambulance chasing' to want a fairly detailed analysis of the circumstances of these incidents, as they can be learned from. Someone ealier asked would you change your behaviour based on knowledge gained,...IMHO, if your current behaviour had you on a path to be another statistic, and the new information shone a spotlight on something you could change to increase your safety and chances of survival (while still doing what you love), you'd be a damn fool not to!

 

There's a lot to be learned from every accident (whether in the snow or the workplace).

Even if it is just that 'out the gates' in not just a gnarlier version of sweet safe Niseko, it is unpatrolled and out of bounds and there are dangers. But there could be much much more learned also....

If COD was trauma for an invisible from above glide crack, would a recci run slowly/cautiously through be a good idea?

If it was head injury was a helmet worn and would it have made a difference?

If it was trauma/exposure/delayed rescue and riding alone, would always riding with a buddy have helped?

If it was asphyxia due to immersion could an Avalung have made a difference in the situation?

 

There have been some outstanding suggestions in this thread already. The flat rope, and thoroughly checking out an area (from lifts, hiking up, and slow inspection run down) stands out for me as the ones I am filing away for my personal vault of knowledge in the future. The discussion is an important one, and the more informed and aware skiers and boarder we have out there, the safer it is for all of us!

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Agreed Mamabear. In a previous life (20 years or so ago) I worked as a dive instructor. Due to the demanding and dangerous nature of west coast Canada diving there were a number of deaths if not every year at least every other year. It was very important to analyze the accident reports and learn from them. Admittedly, most cases were due to plain carelessness but there was the odd case in where the circumstances surrounding the accident caused us to really evaluate how we approached instructing.

 

To me, the same applies to skiing accidents.

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I added a roll of duct tape and decent STRONG multitool this year (already have rope). Duct tape for all sorts of uses but good for making rescue sled from skis, shovel head etc and multitool with good screw driver accessories so you can remove bindings from snow boards, if required, as well as the usual cutting implements. Get a phone that can use Ski trax or similar app... GPS enabled without need for data for exact co-ord locations for calling in rescuers.

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It might pay to add a couple of quick draws to that rope pete. That way you can set up a sort of pully system to pull people out of holes. (quite) a few years ago on this forum someone fell into a hole with a creek in the bottom of it. His mates had ropes etc. to pull him out but he still ended up very cold. Since then I have carried rope b/c.

 

On glide cracks - if you are skiing boarding and pointed more or less down the fall line you are not likely to fall into one as the ones I have seen tend to be shorter that a pair of skis. When you stop facing across the slope in line with the cracks is when I have seen people fall in. Perhaps stop in concave areas rather than just over the top of convex knoles??

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Thanks Captain, will sort that out, great idea, would approximately 1/2 the effort required when pulling them out if you pulled in the correct direction. Presume your would tie a loop in the bottom of the rope for a foot and have them step in it and hang onto the rope to pull them out?

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I would think that they would be buried in the snow that fell in with them so it might just be the lasso under the arms. When my brother fell in a glide crack (only just over his head) he had real trouble getting his skis out from under all the snow that fell in too. (perhaps even lost them, I'm not sure I wasn't there)

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I'm planning to order about 30 meters 550 paracord and weave it into a belt that can be quickly pulled apart for use as a rope. I plan to use a Slatt's rescue stitch for the weave. My ski trousers already stay up with the velcro tightening straps on the inside of the waistband so I wouldn't have to worry about falling trousers in an emergency situation (that is one of the stranger sentences I have written). That way it won't take up any space or weight in my pack and it takes the place of an item I already wear anyway. One drawback would be that it would take longer to pull apart the belt than just take the rope out of my pack. Thoughts anyone?

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I'm going to take out my ejector seat pants, so that if I fall in ass first, I can pull the cord and my alien-tech material will morph into the ejector seat and catapult me out the hole! ;)

 

:D

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I'm going to take out my ejector seat pants, so that if I fall in ass first, I can pull the cord and my alien-tech material will morph into the ejector seat and catapult me out the hole! ;)

 

:D

Clearly you were confused over which were the shiitake and which were the magic mushrooms again TB ;)
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I'd have my doubts that para cord would be strong enough to pull someone out of a hole with. I might be wrong on that but I looked into using it for a hammock and it was apparently not strong enough. I know it's tested to 450 or 550 pounds or whatever but that's straight line tension - as soon as you tie knots in it and wrap it around stuff the breaking force goes down very significantly.

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Gary is absolutey correct. Knots etc great diminish rope strength. Yesterday I bought some 6mm rope rated to 750kg, a small pulley, 48" tape for wrapping around a tree or person and 2 x Quick Draws. The rope whilst thin can be doubled up as required. Would have prefered 11mm but couldnt carry a long enough length.

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Turn on TV Asahi right now......! Happo out of bounds special

 

All those misbehaving gaijin is what it pretty much turned out to be...

 

Finished off with a story about a girl from Ireland who they had to send out a search party for. She was found and in good shape..and was charged ....su ju man en.

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What rope strength? Hmmm... Well modern climbing ropes are like 6000lb. Might not be practical to carry 10metres of that in your pack though and probably not necessary - hopefully if you rescue someone they won't be falling a great distance like a climber might. 550lb paracord likely wont be good enough though - tie a knot in it the 550 will be as much as halved depending on the knot. A decent sized bloke plus gear and clothes could easily be getting on 200lb thats just static weight, then you got to pull him out, jerking on the rope, swinging, slipping, rope rubbing on sharp rocks or corners etc - it will almost certainly snap. If I had to make a guess I'd say you'd want a good quality rope at least 6 or 7mm thick. I think that's what I use to strap my hammock up with and I could imagine that rescuing someone from a glide crack might involve similar kind of forces to somebody swinging around in a hammock. I think I got the stuff from mont bell, not too expensive for 10 meters and not impractical to stick in your pack.

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