Camping Tip Of The Day
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If you are into traversing in the snow (e.g., skiing) I’m sure you have “entertained” the notion of an avalanche devouring you. I think of that whenever I snow ski.
A person could actually start an avalanche. An avalanche, if you don’t know already, is where a whole heap of snow starts cascades down a slope in one big swoop that gets bigger and bigger, until it stops, not surprisingly.
How scary it is to think of me, minding me own business, beaming ear to ear and then suddenly hearing a train-like roar. I envision myself peeking behind me and catching sight of tons of snow with my name written on it. In my daydream I see myself skiing for my life as I am filled with visions of being buried by snow and dying in absolute despair.
The next time you ski, consider safety first and you’ll never have to act out my nightmare. Here are some things you can do to avoid having an avalanche have its way with you.
Let us start with what you should do BEFORE you even go on the trip, shall we?
– Practice holding your breath every day. Start by hyper-ventilating which is where you exhale out of your mouth several times, in fast succession.
– Practice being calm. Got to stressful places and practice concentrating on being calm. Take low (abdomen area) and slow deep breaths.
– Strengthen your body, using as specific as possible exercises. Rope climbing, pull-ups, pulley pulldowns and squats are appropriate excercises to strengthen the muscles required to dig out of snow.
– Check the weather forecast and know the current avalanche reports. If there have been several incidents of avalanche, the snow may be too thick for safety and going out to ski may not be a good idea. At least not where an avalanche just recently occured.
– Bring TWO (yes, 2) avalanche transceivers with you. I always believe in having a backup when it is a life-saving device. Odd how others don’t recommend it. The transceivers must be strapped around the waist or over the shoulder. Have the two in different places. Wear them underneath the outer layer of clothing.
– Dress in red so as to stand out if you are buried.
– Never travel alone.
At The Mountain
– Check out the marked slopes. Some slopes are marked for a reason. And most of the time, it is for safety. Do not go out and be over-adventurous enough to cause an avalanche. Stay off the areas marked “off-limits”.
– Check out possible avalanche activities. Yes, you can see an avalanche coming. If there is any hint of one, stay away from that area. Inform the ski attendants and the ski park office as necessary, so they can mark off the area immediately.
– Be aware of your surroundings. Before you head out and enjoy the hills, inspect the area first. Look around and see if there are any snow build-ups. Snows any more than 2 centimeters can mean unstable conditions. If the snow is over 30 centimeters, then the situation can easily turn into something highly hazardous.
– Check the texture of the snow on your feet. Is it rough or sandblasted? If it is, then you should be fine. But if it is quite smooth and the slope is rounded, then an avalanche can possibly come your way. A smooth and rounded slope means wind slabs and the gusts of wind have piled several layers of snow on the ground. Go someplace else. Better safe than sorry.
– Stay away from cornices. Cornices trigger most avalanches. It is a must that you do not go near one to disturb it. Do not walk over or under it. You might just start the avalanche that you are trying to avoid.
What If You Get Buried In Snow?
– If you are buried by an avalanche, the first thing to do is create a pocket of air at your nose.
– Your breathing should be low and slow. This reduces the odds of panic. Sure, easy to say it now, all safe and sound. I know, I know. But, the more you read advisories like this the more instilled it becomes, even in the case of an emergency. Of course, you should practice this.
– Spit to determine which direction is up. If the spit lands on your face, you are facing up and should try to stand up or claw upwards, in that direction. If you spit and don’t get it back on you, you are facing down and need to turn around, or you are standing with the sky above your head. Swim to the sky!
Many will say, “Do not panic.” Easy for them to say, kicking back in front of the computer gingerly spitting out articles! While good advice, it is not actionable. It is negative in the sense that is puts the word “panic” in mind. You waste time, too. You need to be taking action, not bogging down in thinking. Think instead “remain calm.” Even though this is not enough, it is a step in the right direction. It will REDUCE your panic enough to enable you to take constructive steps.
– Pray for peace of mind, calm and power. God helps those who help themselves. I believe God can give you peace and strength but he isn’t going to clear the snow. There are no atheists in snow holes.
Continually come back to this article to instill these gems. They will help you out of most any jam, not just a snow jam – many of the tips can be applied elsewhere. Use your noodle now, as an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of snow.
Always actively strive to be safe. Follow these tips and you surely will enjoy your skiing escapades five times more than ever before. With peace of mind comes joy!
That’s A Wrap, Compadre!
Chris James, Editor
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