Avalanche and Outback Safety

Jackson Hole is a mountain unlike any other we have skied. It is up there in elevation, between 9,000 and 10,000 ft,                          it is inspiring terrain, and it is where we skied for several days.

Outback skiing is hIMG_1286uge with the locals especially… There is an avalanche beacon training park specifically designed for the practice of finding someone in an avalanche. Beacons are buried in the snow, and individuals try to find these beacons with the use of shock corded metallic poles which unfold from 2 feet to 10 ft in some cases, as if in a real life situation.

Jackson HoIMG_1284le also has a beacon safety station,  where outback enthusiasts are encouraged to check the batteries and operational function of their beacons before they enter the safety gate through the Jackson Hole boundary to the outback terrain. They have cliffs, and rocks that border all the slopes and bowls, and the snow is wonderful.

The National Ski and Board Safety Assn. considers Outback Safety  very important .
The day we left , Jan 29, 2013, The Jackson Hole Daily reported that 2 skiers died in the outback the day before in an avalanche.

The Avalanche Center  posted the avalanche danger at the time to be moderate. The two who died were staying in the area overnight in a known outback destination. Elizabeth Benson was studying to be a physician assistant, and had worked in orthopedics. The other skier, Nick Gillespie, was a seasonal trail crew worker in the Grand Teton National Park. Upper Berry Creek in the Cliff Creek drainage off Hoback Canyon in Sublette County was where the avalanche occurred. It was by all accounts a snow slide with an 8 inch crown which swept into a tree taking both skiers with it. It occurred at 9,200 ft according to the Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center. IMG_1294   All skiers had climbed and skied the terrain that day, but two skiers went back up for a second round or lap… The first skier triggered the avalanche, and the second skier skied over the remnants of the first avalanche.                       Neither survived the slides impact…
Snow slides are easily triggered as new snow rests on weak or slick or wind packed snow surfaces underneath. When they are triggered, it is sometimes unclear which way they will slide or break, and slough off below. Especially in foggy or windy conditions, blowing  snow and white out conditions,disorientation can occur. Indeed, other rescues occurred the same day when a helicopter found a group of lost outback enthusiasts huddled around a fire. Jackson Hole has some of the finest search and rescue programs ongoing. Anyone interested in skiing and boarding in the outback must take atleast one avalanche safety course, and be prepared for the unexpected.  IMG_1276

Outback and Inbound Ski and Board Safety is very important to the vitality of this mountain and its wilderness enthusiasts….  Although there are thousands of competent outback riders and skiers who go into the outback on a weekly basis in the winter, we agree, it is not fun to  mess with Mother Nature…..Respect the gifts she offers, and enjoy memories that are healthy, safe and enduring. Make it back safely, don’t push your friends, and know your limitations…..








An Alpine Meadows ski instructor  died, days after a weekend accident on the mountain.Annalise Kjolhede passed away Tuesday, according to a news release from the Lake Tahoe-area resort.  Despite the fact that she wore a helmet, Kjolhede suffered injuries to her head and neck while backcountry skiing at Alpine on Saturday. Read more: http://www.kcra.com/news/local-news/news-sierra/Alpine-Meadows-ski-instructor-24-dies-days-after-accident/-/12970852/17423830/-/flfxfn/-/index.html – ixzz2Expa4xiX

SOLO Wilderness First Aid

SOLO Wilderness First Aid

The NSBSA is aware that hiking, skiing and snowboarding  into the outback and wilderness areas without taking the proper precautions and without a buddy is often a recipe for disaster. Even the most skilled outback enthusiast can run into trouble, danger, and disaster. Even the most skilled ski patrol can be taken down by their own avalanche control and safety skills. Avalanches are real and anyone can be caught in one. Do you know what to do in the event of an avalanche? Can you outski or outboard an avalanche? Do you want to be caught in that scenerio?  If you are going into the wilderness, a bowl, a ravine, the trees, or out of bounds, do you have the information you need to survive a dangerous situation???? Do you have the skill it takes to drop off of cliffs, or drop into gulleys, or wedel between two rock walls, and survive a mistake or worse yet, a disaster…. And if you do, is it worth the risk for the adrenaline rush to do it improperly, or put others at risk?

We highly recommend outdoor wilderness first aid courses such as  provided by SOLO and other Wilderness First Aid programs. These courses are imperative before making the trek. Be smart, save a life, limit injuries, message injury prevention awareness.                                         IMG_1028

Scenarios From Matt The Medic in Charlottesville:, Virginia   

Casual Hiker, actual story:  Pretty October day, hiker injures her knee while hiking at very popular Old Rag Mountain, ~3 miles in, can’t walk out, rescue request is called in at 2:30pm, patient doesn’t reach ambulance at trail head until 12:30 AM — temperature drops to 34 degrees, the hiker and her group were not planning to be out after dark, everyone is hungry and cold, the injured patient can’t exercise to warm up … If you came across this hiker needing help, would you know how to treat her injury such that the potential for long term permanent damage is minimized, and care for her for 12+ hours, while also caring for yourself and the rest of the group which had prepared for only a day hike, likely without food and warm clothing?

What:   Hands-on learn how to save life and limb during the critical minutes or hours before ambulance / hospital hand-off.   This 16- to 18-hour course is designed for anyone who may find themselves away from immediate help, having to rely on their own skills to help others survive and thrive in case of injury or illness, before help arrives. The learning blends classroom instruction, hands-on rescue scenario practice, and Q&A, resulting in SOLO Wilderness First Aid Certification (valid for two years).  Open to all, this course is recognized by the American Camping Association as the minimal standard for camp counselors — both day hiking and overnight hiking leaders, and is approved by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) as minimum required training for troops going to Philmont (reference).  See prior course pictures here and here and here and here, and check out the class on facebook.

Article on the Course and Instructor  from the newsletter of the American Camp Association, Virginia’s chapter

What Else: Individual Topics + Scenarios in Disaster & Wilderness First Aid  · Refresh your knowledge & skills   · Never-trained folks + all ages welcome.  Click above for details.

[Link above is not the full-on course – info below is the full-on course.]

When & Where:  (Full-on courses run 8:30am – 6:30pm each course day)

   ***Not one public class has been cancelled, ever!

         WFA flyer

· [February 23-24:  Private course for Girl Scout Council in TN]

   · March 2-3:  ☼ Knoxville, TN

   · March 9-10:  ☼ Asheville, NC

   · March 23-24:  ☼ Richmond, VA

   · April 6-7:  ☼ Blacksburg, VA, or Princeton, NJ

   · April 13-14:  ☼ Princeton, NJ or Blacksburg, VA

      · May 10:  CPR & AED Cert Course in Charlottesville, VA, 6:30pm

   · May 11-12:  ☼ Charlottesville, VA

   · May 18-19:  ☼ Warrenton, VA (near Northern Virginia / Washington DC)

   · June 1-2:  ☼ Madison, NJ (outside New York City)

   · August 14-21:  Wilderness First Responder (8 days) at Spruce Knob, WV


      Click to Register

           · For Future Virginia Area Classes:   Please contact us or email matt (at) solowfa (dot) com.  Also, check out parent organization SOLO for additional course offerings & dates with other SOLO instructors.



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