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

UPDATED: Young deckhands backed out of fatal Arctic Fox II trip just before fishboat departed

Inexperienced twin brothers had ‘gut feeling’ and bailed before going to open ocean

Police investigating alleged assault on Oak Bay Avenue

Staff at Oak Bay Home Hardware say one person was taken to hospital

Oak Bay neighbourhoods rocked by blasting activity

Oak Bay seeks new rock blasting bylaw regarding ‘continuous’ noise

Roadside barriers, amphibian fencing to be installed along Prospect Lake Road

Crews on-site 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., traffic impacts expected through September

Greater Victoria hardly making a dent in greenhouse gas emissions target

One-per-cent drop from 2007 to 2018 a far cry from the 33-per-cent goal for 2020

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Most Read