College of the Rockies Mountain Adventure Skills Training students conducted applied research on tree well extraction techniques under the supervision of instructor Brian Bell (front, second from right) and Rob Whelan from CHM Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures (far right).

B.C. college students draw up best practices for self-rescue from tree wells

Students at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook worked partnered with heli-skiing business

A joint research project between the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook and a heli-skiing business has developed a set of best practices for skiers and snowboarders to safely get themselves out of a tree well.

The College of the Rockies Mountain Adventure Skills Training program and CMH Heli-Skiing teamed up last year to work on how to self-rescue if a backcountry user gets stuck in a tree well.

READ MORE: Woman dies after getting caught in avalanche near Field, B.C.

A tree well is an area of loose snow around the trunk of a tree that can cause serious injury or death if a skier or snowboarder falls into one. It is very difficult to get yourself out.

Research was conducted in late 2017 and into 2018, both in the classroom and on a four-day field exercise in Nakusp, where 22 mock rescues were simulated. The team surveyed tree wells to determine depth, shape and orientation around the tree trunk.

Rob Whelan, the assistant area manager for the Kootenays with CMH, says the project also helped develop safety instruction protocols for their staff and guests.

“The hard work and excellent preparation of the MAST students allowed us to collect a robust and unique dataset regarding tree well phenomena and to formalize a new tree well rescue technique that we can implement,” said Whelan.

In the end, under Whelan’s direction, a ‘T’ Rescue system was identified, which demonstrated that the most effective rescue actions were a combination of digging, platform preparation, and pulling.

The final report was shared with the Canadian Avalanche Association at annual meetings in the Okanagan last year, as well as the Elk Valley snow avalanche workshop.

It was published in the Avalanche Journal, while Bell also presented it during staff training for Retallack Catskiing.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs improve to 6-0 at home

Bulldogs take down top-ranked Penticton Vees

Bamfield boat service increases following fatal bus accident

Science students taking MV Frances Barkley to Bamfield marine station

Courtenay-Alberni candidates trade barbs at Alberni all candidates meeting

Crime, climate change, seniors all on slate of questions

Derelict hotel in Port Alberni sold

New owner from Lantzville plans to build condos on Arrowview Hotel site

VIDEO: Langley woman’s security camera records its own theft

Langley family discovers early morning grab was recorded

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

BC Children’s Hospital launches 2 new virtual care sites bringing total to 19 across province

Provincial initiative allows pediatric patients to see health specialists through video

‘Wham-bam out the door’: Surrey man’s front yard left ruined by scamming landscaper

Resident warns neighbours to be careful of door-to-door salesmen

PHOTOS: Kipchoge becomes first runner to dip under 2 hours for marathon

Olympic champion and world record holder from Kenya clocks 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds

Most Read