Wearing a helmet in the backcountry? - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 01-18-2009, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
Summit Master
 
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Location: Finally stopping that crazy suffering that is ice, climbing to concentrate on great ski tours!, .
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Default Wearing a helmet in the backcountry?

My daughter took a pretty dramatic fall on her snowboard at the resort on Saturday. End over end faceplant tumble from a high speed. She's got some bruises and bad snow-rash on her face, but she did finish out the day, and I bet in part because she was wearing a good helmet.

I haven't ever worn one skiing. Yes, I make her, and then don't do it myself. I'm not sure why, so I ordered a helmet that I plan to use at the resort.

What about in the backcountry? I rarely see folks wearing lids there. Thinking about trees/rocks etc, I think I'll start using it out there too. I use a helmet while climbing, riding my bike and motorcycle, so why not always while skiing?

Anyway, just a note, not a debate or anything. Food for thought...
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 01-18-2009, 09:57 PM
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My son did a faceplant last saturday and his board came up and hit the back of his head. 6 stitches later he was out of hospital. I asked him where his helmet was and he said he didn't like to wear it because it wasn't very comfortable. Hmm
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 01-18-2009, 11:33 PM
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I always wear my helmet, the only exception is on days when I'm shooting photos in the park (essentially, taking it easy on groomers all day). Oddly enough, I've only ever hit my head while not paying attention on green/blue groomers... I tend to be a lot more cautious and attentive when I'm riding more demanding terrain.

My helmet is super comfortable and just the right amount of warm, my only complaints are that it restricts my hearing a little and its slowly wrecking the padding on my goggles. Best parts about wearing a helmet: saying no to yardsales, and no goggle fogging when I lift them off my face...
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 01:45 AM
High on the Mountain Top
 
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Helmets are a relatively large and heavy item. If you need to climb the mountain yourself rather than ride the lift then this is a larger concern.

Usually what I ski in the backcountry for fun is pretty mellow stuff... however, there are certainly times I would have liked to have a helmet when survival sking down some terrible crust in the dense forest. Still not sure I think it would be worth it to carry it though.

Helmets would be too hot to wear during intense activity, but usually it isn't so dangerous on the way up. That said, this guy had a different experience:
http://www.telemarktalk.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=52611
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 02:16 AM
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My helmet (Boeri) weighs 14 oz. and I don't notice the weight. The back country includes trees and rocks which can be hard on the unprotected noggin. I'd go with the protection.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 08:02 AM
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I made it a resolution to start wearing my helmet on EVERY ski trip this year. Last year I would often say 'oh this trip isn't going to be too difficult/dangerous I don't need a helmet'. But then on trips where I did bring my helmet, and I found I was somewhere a helmet might by useful, I wasn't used to wearing my helmet and it would stay in my pack.

I realised leaving safety equipment behind because you were worried about weight was a little lame.

I know I'm a terrible skier (this is my second season), and as such I know it's not unlikely I will hit trees or rocks that I was intending to go round!

I was also at a talk on avalanches by Albi Sole (doing a masters on avalanche risks) and he said he was rethinking his philosophy on helmets after seeing the statistics of trauma (not suffocation) being the killer when caught in an avalanche. I know wearing a helmet won't make a difference MOST of the time in this scenario...but if there is a small chance it would help it's good enough for me!
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 08:05 AM
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Oh and my helmet came in handy for the first time at the start of December...I was skiing at Bow Summit on a thin snowpack...and somewhere near the top, i sunk to the bottom of the snow, caught a rock around my ski and faceplanted into the rest of the rocks (the snow was only about 20cm deep over these rocks, they were totally hidden but very shallow). Would have been bad without a helmet
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 09:28 AM
 
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A lot of people do a lot of sports where the hazards include a significant risk of head injury. This topic always comes up, and you can always predict the comments about comfort and convenience.

This thread on ClubTread seems more enlightened than most, though. First of all you guys are discussing helmets, you're not arguing.

Second, nobody has brought out the "rights" issue. That's where I tell you that, if I want to clobber myself, it's my right to do so. Or I might say that, if I want to crack my skull, I understand the risk and I accept the responsibility.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 10:06 AM
 
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Motion sports are fun. Bikes, skis, motorcycles, flying, any kind of racing...
The ideas are:
- it's a motion sport (both speed and dynamics)
- it requires personal fitness
- it carries a tradition of personal freedom (yeah, "Easy Rider" was on TV Saturday night).
- there is some risk of injury.

I think that most people are not aware of how well the human body protects itself from injury.

When you go flying over a snowdrift, for example, your arms automatically go out to steady your body. It's automatic, the reflexes are built into you spinal cord. When you crash into a rock, you will throw your head up (or down) to protect it, and you'll also throw your arms in front, as a shield. Again it's automatic. I've seen people do this. I've also seen people fail to do this because of impairment from alcohol. The difference is dramatic.

So if you hang out in the ER, especially in winter, you will see lots of victims with broken arm bones, or dislocated elbows and shoulders, and a few broken lower-leg bones. You will see fewer injuries to the body's internal organs (deflated lung, or sore back). And much much less head injuries. The trouble with those head injuries is that the brain is injured. The damage can be random, severe, and permanent.

[u]So here's my message:</u>

The more you play outside, the more likely you'll get injured. The head gets injured much less than the rest of the body, but the consequences are much more severe.

[u]Another message </u>I like to repeat:

You wear your helmet all the time, but you only use it once.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 10:20 AM
High on the Mountain Top
 
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I'll defend my complaint about the helmet weight a bit more:

I understand that it isn't SO heavy, and I also understand the potential usefulness it has in preventing a big head injury.

However, there is a LOT of safety equipment I could be carrying that I don't because of the weight (and to some degree the size, and the helmet it big). If I wanted to carry another pound in my pack, what should it be? Maybe I should start carrying that bivy (probably lots of you do this already). But even if I was going to start carrying more "protective equipment" it isn't clear to me that I wouldn't be better off bringing wrist guards, or kneepads.

Sometimes I wish I was wearing my full hockey gear actually, but there is no way I can lug that around.

I guess the rationale behind the helmet over wrist guards is that while breaking your wrist can really suck, breaking your head can suck more.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 10:55 AM
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I also wear a helmet because my mum and my girlfriend give me s**t if they see the pictures and I'm not wearing it!
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 11:08 AM
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Scott, I agree with you. I do long ski tours, and by the time I carry a first aid kit, a repair kit, a snow kit, a shovel, probe, saw, down jacket, waterproof etc., my pack is heavy and stuffed. Sure, you would be slightly safer wearing a helmet for every down hill run, but the truth is backcountry skiers are more likely to be killed by avalanches than head injuries, and traumatic deaths from avalanches aren't generally of the kind that a helmet is going to save your life. Plus, when you are skiing far from the road, you need to ski in control. It's like alpine climbing, taking a fall off a solid bolt at the sport crag isn't as big a deal as taking a fall off a manky piece of gear two days walk from the road. Of course, if your idea of a big ski day is a half hour skin up from the road, that helmet isn't such a big deal.

But, I've gotta admit the people I see with helmets in the backcountry have zero other safety gear so should they break a binding, get benighted or get caught in an avalanche, all of which is much more likely, they'll be hooped.
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 11:29 AM
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Great topic, I agree with Sandy. I always wear my helmet when in the resorts but when touring I do not....

Kim and I talk about this all the time with Kite Surfing as well. Most learn with a helmet and then get rid of it when they get a little better. Most of the time like skiing you may not hit your head but if your board hits you or some other weird senerio happens then it is a smart thing to have on. Even when I was in Baja towards the end I was thinking to get rid of it but then i said why? It does not limit me at all I do not feel its weight and in fact it protects me more from the sun. I think kite surfing is going through what snowboard/skiing and wakeboarding has gone through. Uncool at first but as more elite pro wear them more kids do and the coolness/uncoolness factor goes away or reverses like if you see a guy without a helmet on a bike he looks uncool or unusual.

I am not in favor of laws but rather education and kids these days who are pushing sports further than we have do wear more protection and it is better, lighter and fancier. Great topic and hope it inspires more to think about the topic and do what suits them accordingly for all their prospective sports.
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post #14 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 12:01 PM
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and just for the record I do take lots of other safety gear with me (not just a helmet). And this isn't just for the short tours. Did 18km up Healy Pass with a helmet the other week...and an overnight tour with one too last year.

I don't judge people who don't wear one though (no-one i go with does). I recognise it is just good practice for me personally.
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post #15 of (permalink) Old 01-19-2009, 02:44 PM
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I always wear a helmet lift skiing, but never in the backcountry. I would rather put the extra weight / pack space toward an abs pack or an avalung than a helmet.
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