Avalanche what Avalanche?
Last week was Avalanche/first aid training week. You need to have a valid first aid certificate to pass BASI level 1. First day we were just going through types of terrain and how avalanches are triggered and the flow of them. We saw an AMAZING video of an avalanche was was triggered on purpose but only expected a small avalanche. It started off relatively small and then the entire side of the mountain triggered and everything came down. Interesting fact over 90% of people survive avalanches who are wearing an avalanche transceiver.
After the training on the Tuesday night we were out on the mountain digging our snow caves. Unfortunately the snow was too dry to make snow caves so we had to make a snow “trench” instead…
Damit I knew it was a bad idea to go to the loo at night… now wheres our snow hole?!… Infact Matt did want to go to the loo in the night and the empty bottle you see in the picture of mike below was by the morning full of liquid… nice! … orange juice anyone?!
We slept right on the snow/ice I had a bivvy bag, under mat and sleeping bag. The general idea was that you kept your boot inner linings, fresh thermals for the following day etc in the sleeping bag with you. Anything that you want to stay damp and cold but not icy you have in your bivvy bag (so boots, jacket, trousers/pants etc).
It got to around -6oC during the night. Not too cold for I was getting a bit cold by the morning. We didn’t build our hole in the ground that well. You should have a doorway at one point to let the cold air out otherwise it says at the bottom of your hole where you are. Unfortunatly the original place we had our door was facing the wind, so we had to fill it in and didn’t create a new one… DOH!
During the day we practised finding people/bags with avalanche transceivers in a mock exercise. What I didn’t know is when the transceiver points the direction you want to go it doesn’t point directly at where the signal is coming from. It takes you on an arc before you get to the person.
The last two days (Friday and Saturday) we were doing mountain first aid training. The training seemed to be a bit more in dept than the first aid training I have done in the UK. Basically because you may have to keep a patient alive for maybe 12hrs or more before help can get to you, unlike in the UK when you expect an ambulance to turn up well within 30mins. We were told a load of really gruesome stories of incidents that have happened. One was of a parent who had their child in a backpack doing some runs, after a while they thought the kid was being quiet so while they had another couple of runs. But when they got to the bottom they found that the kid had hyperthermia and in the end died. Also another interesting thing, if someone does have hyperthermia don’t put them right next to a fire or try and warm them up quickly, it will kill them, it has to be gradual as otherwise the mind thinks they are too hot and any warmth that is in the core of your body goes to the surface and you get even colder.