1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Overseas Reading the Snow.

Discussion in 'Out and About' started by Robson Valley, Dec 14, 2018.

  1. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2014
    Messages:
    7,661
    Likes Received:
    1,082
    Location:
    McBride, BC
    Janne and JohnC like this.
  2. BJJJ

    BJJJ Native

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2010
    Messages:
    1,208
    Likes Received:
    101
    Location:
    North Shropshire
    Beautiful to see, we rarely get deep snow. Interesting to see the experience required to gauge the avalanche threat level. :christmas2:
     
  3. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2014
    Messages:
    7,661
    Likes Received:
    1,082
    Location:
    McBride, BC
    I posted/shared that so everybody can see how "weak" a "weak" layer really is.
    He hugged that block and it slid off like it was greased. Doesn't take much to get it going.
    At this very time, that weak layer is down 60-150cm, depending on exactly where you are.

    Everybody is expected to carry probes and a shovel in the back country.
    An Avalung is a good idea as is a Pieps Avalanche personal beacon.
    Avalanche snow condition seminars are put on several times in the winters now.

    Many times, the avalanche deaths are pure dumb bloody bad luck accidents.
    Stupidity of the first order still catches a few of them.

    The Search & Rescue teams still suffer from PTSD, particularly if the wolves find and dig up the bodies first.
     
  4. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2016
    Messages:
    11,407
    Likes Received:
    2,009
    Location:
    Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
    There is a good, old rule to avoid risking being pulped by an avalanche:

    X-country: Ski where other people skied before you, if you are the first one avoid steep slopes
    Downhill: Do not do Off Piste. The vast downhill deaths caused by avalanches are dumb people skiing outside the prepared runs.
    Some might call it 'natural selection at work'.

    One of our regimental duties back in the bad old days was SAR. We had no wolves in the mountains back then.
    All of our cups and stuff you eat from in our homes is made with heavily patterned porcelain.
     
  5. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2014
    Messages:
    7,661
    Likes Received:
    1,082
    Location:
    McBride, BC
    We have 300km of groomed, double track xc trails with warming huts you could stay in.
    All the main access roads(?) up into our sled country (best in North America) are groomed and packed
    all the way from the parking lots (sled loading ramps, fast food trucks and so on).

    The sobering bottom line is that a slab, even just a foot thick, can and will kill you.
    Just a little one = no more than 10m/30' high will kill you. Same as a tree hole will kill you.
    There are sleds here that are fast enough (90 mph) to outrun an avalanche but those riders aren't stupid
    enough to put themselves at risk.

    The mental environment has changed a lot in the past couple of winters since a group of 5 died.
    Now, you go ultra prepared to spend 24 hrs up top. Maybe not just you but helping somebody else.
    I think a few got partly buried last winter but didn't hear of any local deaths.

    I have lists for sled kits. On you, on the sled and in your pack. They are long.
     
  6. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2016
    Messages:
    11,407
    Likes Received:
    2,009
    Location:
    Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
    It is usually the tourists. Scandinavians in the Alps.
    Brits in Geilo.....

    :)

    Be careful, Paul_B !
     
  7. Limaed

    Limaed Full Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,206
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Perth & Anglesey
    Sorry bud, you’re wrong about that. There were 300 avalanches reported in Scotland and at least 10 attributed deaths last season. Clearly they were in the mountains and not on the scale of that seen in the greater ranges but present a risk to life nether the less.
     
  8. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2016
    Messages:
    11,407
    Likes Received:
    2,009
    Location:
    Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
    10 deaths due to avalanches in UK???????

    WOW.
     
  9. Limaed

    Limaed Full Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,206
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Perth & Anglesey
    Actually I’m not quite correct as some were from falls / hypothermia etc, I can’t find the exact figure. My point was that it’s a misconception to think we don’t get avalanches here or that they don’t present a risk. The Scottish Avalanche Information Service daily reports started today. Lots of good info on the site if folk are interested: https://www.sais.gov.uk/
     
    Janne likes this.
  10. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2014
    Messages:
    7,661
    Likes Received:
    1,082
    Location:
    McBride, BC
    Limaed is correct = it does not take much of a slide to kill you.
    I have no misconceptions whatsoever about avalanches in other parts of the world.

    The walkers and skiiers are not well educated at all when compared with the snowmobile tribe.
    You have to get up there to learn to read the snow. Just a little extra bushcraft for some.

    Here, the forecasts come out of Avalanche Canada with the main office in Revelstoke, British Columbia.
    Revelstoke is a big town that regularly gets whacked and cut off from the world by avalanches,
    no matter how much control is done. Then somebody will start bitching about the cost of explosives.
     
  11. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2016
    Messages:
    11,407
    Likes Received:
    2,009
    Location:
    Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
    Snow is soft. Moving snow is soft too. Except the treacle like/semi fluid consistency does not flow around your limbs easily, but pushes against.
    Once the flow stops it gets hard.
    Result = multiple fractures, many of those compound fractures. Even if your spinal cord and ribs survived, the rib cage can not move so you suffocate.

    Stay on the prepared pist.
     
  12. John Fenna

    John Fenna Lifetime Member & Maker

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    Messages:
    21,496
    Likes Received:
    876
    Location:
    Pembrokeshire
    The first recorded avalanche death in Britain was (if I recall my training aright) in Kent (SE anyway) when a railway embankment avalanched...
    I recall clearly being shown how to dig a test pit in deep snow during my training at Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms - to see if it was safe to go out onto the hills.
    As we were digging the pit the slope avalanched as the pit had weakened it and we were all hurtled downslope ... for about 12"...
    We did not go further on the hill that day - but at least I can say I have been in an avalanche and survived it :)
     
    Robson Valley and Janne like this.
  13. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2014
    Messages:
    7,661
    Likes Received:
    1,082
    Location:
    McBride, BC
    You're a lucky man, John. Very good example of a lesson well learned.

    Snow changes with disturbance. It sets like concrete in about 20+ minutes.
    Go out and play in the yard and in the street in front of my house and see for your self.
    Even just knee deep to walk in. 30 minutes and you can stand on top.
    No hard drifts to cut blocks for an igloolik? Just walk around in the powder on skiis or snow shoes.
    Go sit and do a brew up for 20-30 minutes while the snow sets. Just bush-craft.
    I only know 6-8 different words for snow qualities. Inuit have 20+ words.

    These UK experiences don't surprise me one little bit. Some are just bad luck.

    Major packed and groomed 30' wide road approach up into our back country. Magnificent scenery.
    Maybe 20 miles to go on the sleds. Six sled-heads riding in a string, nice and flat, no big deal.
    At some point, they stopped. Only 5 sleds in the row now.
    Several miles back, a hill beside the track had slumped without a sound over the sled noises.
    #6 was dead and buried, 6-8' down.
     
  14. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2016
    Messages:
    11,407
    Likes Received:
    2,009
    Location:
    Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
    In Swedish there are only one (or two ?) words for snow, but I used to add many spicy adjectives in front of that one word to make up for it.
    None is children or lady friendly though.
     
  15. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2014
    Messages:
    7,661
    Likes Received:
    1,082
    Location:
    McBride, BC
    Snow changes with time, temperature and wind. Especially old snow.
    Might take 6-8 weeks but a daily handful is quite different.
    I like it best when it turns into sand at -10C. Sifts out of my snowshoes.
    If I can take the same path out, it sets up really hard for easy walking.

    Now, all I want to do is ride in the Tucker Snow-Cat and watch the scenery roll by.(got my hopes up)
     
  16. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2014
    Messages:
    7,661
    Likes Received:
    1,082
    Location:
    McBride, BC
    The big storm is full on. Winds to 80kph here, =8C but dry in the village.
    Wind pushed over a street light pole this afternoon.

    CMH Heliski/Valemount says the powder is chest deep
    and some skiiers are getting more than 20,000,000 vertical in a week.
    The powder hound Yanks from Aspen and Vail are lined up.
     
  17. baggins

    baggins Full Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Messages:
    1,304
    Likes Received:
    100
    Location:
    Coventry (and up trees)
    great post Robson. And very timely, with snow forecast over here.
    i narrowly missed being caught in an avalanche in the cairngorms a few years ago. Traversing a slope and noticed the top 2cm of snow just sliding into the footprints of my collgues in front of me. called everyone back and, just as we came off the slope, the top layer gave way. 2cm of snow over several 100 square meters is more than enough to knock you over, and a very sobering reminder of just how much power is there.
     
    Robson Valley likes this.
  18. Nomad64

    Nomad64 Full Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2015
    Messages:
    963
    Likes Received:
    473
    Location:
    Just out of range
    For those with an interest in the winter Scottish mountains, PyB have posted a lovely collection of old and new short films.

    https://www.pyb.co.uk/scottish-winter-psych/

    FWIW, like JF, I did my winter skills training in the Scottish highlands (Glencoe rather than the Cairngorms), exactly the same drill as that in the vid posted by the OP.
     
    Robson Valley likes this.

Share This Page