Banter about a bunny slope.
Heading West to Ski Trees?
3 posts from 3 users
Updated 6 months ago
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6 months ago

Remember that tree wells can be life threatening dangerous.


Recuers dug a skier out of a rock well. Likely brought him back from being dead — courtesy CPR.

Denis - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

Tree wells are scary.  Everyone knows about avalanches, far fewer know about tree wells.  Here is a good intro, 

and a rescue, 

To be suspended upside down hanging from your skis is a particularly scary scenario.  This happened to a friend, who was recovered uninjured.   Obviously, don’t ski too close to a tree.  But, there is always the possibility that what looks like a 3 foot tall tree is actually the top of a much bigger tree with a large tree well underneath.  Tree wells happen only around conifers.  Aspens, birches, maples, etc. don’t have them.  Personally, I love skiing among conifers, it’s much more esthetic.  Conifers also protect the snow from sun and wind much better than hardwoods.  In the east, tree wells are less of a problem because you don’t have the kind of massive dumps that have occurred recently in the Sierra.  I always wear an Avalanche beacon after major snow and wind events, both inbounds and out, and always wear a whistle.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

Here is the best resource I know about tree well and deep snow safety.

What Is a Snow Immersion Suffocation?

A tree well/ snow immersion suffocation accident can happen when a skier or snowboarder falls – usually headfirst – into a tree well or deep loose snow and becomes immobilized and trapped under the snow and suffocates.

In an inverted position you can become trapped under the snow. Breathing becomes difficult as the loose snow packs in around you. Without immediate help from your partner, you may suffocate.

Prevention of falling into a tree well or areas of deep snow is all-important because the odds of surviving deep snow immersion are low.

90% of people involved in Tree Well/ SIS hazard research experiments could NOT rescue themselves. If a partner is not there for immediate rescue, the skier or rider may die very quickly from suffocation - in many cases, he or she can die as quickly as someone can drown in water.


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