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

Kitamaat women complete the three-peat at All Native

Haisla team unstoppable in final as they rout Hazelton; Adelia Paul back to back MVP

No injuries reported following Kitimat Scotiabank robbery

RCMP release image of man wanted in connection with robbery

Northern Health recommends self-quarantine for people returning from Hubei

The healthcare provider said it isn’t neccessary for healthy children to wear face masks

Wet’suwet’en return to camps near Houston, Coastal GasLink workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

Kitimat to host Minerals North conference in 2021

Expect between 200 and 300 delegates

Protesters barricade Premier John Horgan’s home ahead of B.C. budget unveiling

Demonstrators from the Extinction Rebellion have blocked the Langford driveway

Ten poisoned eagles rushed to veterinary hospital in Nanaimo

Eagles stricken after eating flesh of euthanized animal at Nanaimo Regional Landfill

Trudeau says Wet’suwet’en crisis, rail blockades a critical moment for country

First Nations leaders suggest it may be time to peacefully end the blockades

B.C. budtenders become first private cannabis workers to unionize in Canada

Two of seven Clarity Cannabis storefronts vote to join UFCW 1518 union

Kids exposed to household cleaners as newborns more likely to get asthma: B.C. study

Air fresheners, plug-in deodorizers, antimicrobial hand sanitizers and oven cleaners were the worst culprits

Victoria, Abbotsford record biggest jumps in rent prices nationwide: report

Toronto and Vancouver had priciest rentals in Canada

VIDEO: Convoy of forest industry supporters on its way to Victoria

Rally at the B.C. legislature begins with participants setting off from Campbell River

Teen snowmobiler found safe after overnight search in Okanagan

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Most Read