August 04, 2006

Mountain Safety

Last night we did the first classroom part of our Mountain safety course; this involved us learning about how to search with a transciever and probe and what kind of gear you should have with you if you're going off into the backcountry.

Today we spent most of the day working on snow to practice the search a rescue techniques that we'd learnt about last night. The conditions could have been more pleasant, it was snowing most of the morning and it was very wet snow so we were all pretty soaked. We split into three groups and each group had their own mock avalanche area to work with. Initially our group did some final search transciever practice, we started within 3m of the target and had to locate it and then probe correctly in a 10cm grid until we found it.

After the easy practice we did the more difficult work of locating the target from a greater distance. The mock avalanche had a pair of skis that had "come off" of our victim and gave us an indication of their last location and the path that the avalanche had taken them. We each searched with the transcievers until we located the area where the victim had been buried and then we probed until we found them.

After this we tackled the much more difficult task of multiple burials. The BCA tracker transcievers that we were using have a multiple burial button which allows you to lock on to multiple signals and then back to a single signal. This makes it slightly easier to differentiate between signals but it's still much tougher than a single victim. This clearly shows why it's best to stick to safe practices such as travelling one at a time across potentially dangerous terrain.

Since the exercise required us to work individually or in small teams there was a lot of time standing around. Ivan was kind enough to let us go off for some free skiing in between our work which was good as there was lots of new snow and, later in the afternoon when it stopped snowing and the sun came out and we could see, the off piste was wonderful and often untracked.

After tea at the hotel we had another classroom session and tomorrow we're off on a bit of an off piste hike to look at slopes and dig snow pits to analyse the snow layers.

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Posted by Len at August 4, 2006 10:47 PM | Categories: Argentina 06 , Argentina 06 - Ski Days
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