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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Heritage rail to remain closed for both July and August

Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society may open Cloverdale Station in September

‘Trauma equals addiction’ – why some seek solace in illicit substances

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Honks, sirens and thumbs-up at ‘Keep the RCMP in Surrey’ rally outside city hall

‘Many many Surreyites turned out supporting #keepthercmpinsurreybc,’ posted one protester

Proposed White Rock development a ‘nightmare’ for Elm Street neighbours

Density, traffic, loss of views among chief concerns of residents

Delta launches online engagement portal

“Let’s Talk Delta” offers variety of feedback methods including surveys, polls, forums and Q&A boards

Sources say Canada, U.S. likely to extend mutual travel ban into late August

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted at the possibility after a phone call with U.S. President

Cold and wet weather has corn farmers waiting across the Fraser Valley

Usually the crop is ready July 5-12 but it’s still a few more days from perfection, says local farmer

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

COVID-19 exposure on Vancouver flight

The Air Canada 8421 flight travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver on July 6

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Chilliwack

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

VIDEO: Former Abbotsford resident giving away $1,000

Langley native Alex Johnson creates elaborate treasure hunt to give away cash

Most Read