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post #1 of (permalink) Old 03-05-2013, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
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Default A good read on Airbag Packs and their effectivenes

Its true that some will make the mistake and take increasingly risky behaviour when wearing an ABS pack, which is like saying its okay to drive drunk as long as I'm wearing my seatbelt. In the end it is one more tool, that has been proven effective in many scenarios, just how effective? The article delves deeply into that. But does it really matter, aside from dispelling marketing claims? As long as your perception of risk isn't vastly altered I don't think you're hurting your chances by wearing a pack in Avy terrain. That said, though I've used one, I'm waiting on the sidelines for purchase, weight and capacity (often hauling an SLR with Telephoto) remains a bit of a hangup, but this is changing quickly!

Another note to add, an ABS pack in no way replaces beacon, probe and shovel, all of which are essential tools availability to backcountry users.

http://utahavalanchecenter.org/blog-...g-closer-truth
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 03-05-2013, 06:06 PM
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Well written and a great counterpoint to the often misleading advertising.
I will get the airbag one day, weight and cost is an issue at this point. Thanks for the link split boarder.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 03-05-2013, 09:46 PM
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quote:Originally posted by runningclouds

Well written and a great counterpoint to the often misleading advertising.
I will get the airbag one day, weight and cost is an issue at this point. Thanks for the link split boarder.
Arc'Teryx is working on a battery operated fan airbag, rather than the compressed gas... will help (a bit) with weight but (certainly) not price!

-Ryan
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 03-05-2013, 10:44 PM
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quote:Originally posted by Ryan.in.yaletown
a battery operated fan airbag, rather than the compressed gas...
Tantalizing concept, looking forward to seeing it. And yes I am sure the bag will be top-of-the-priceline.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2013, 12:05 PM
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I wear an airbag pack when possible (day trips) and will continue to do so. I'm not concerned with the nitty gritty of the stats, only that it will contribute at all to saving my life. Yes, they're heavy, but not so much that it affects my skiing (I suck anyway) and for day use, I don't notice the extra weight. My BCA pack carries well.

Other the cost, I don't understand the disdain for the technology.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2013, 12:37 PM
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Some of the disdain comes from the ever increasing need for people to carry more and more gizmos when they recreate. We have evolved from no gear, to cord, to beacons with perhaps one or two shovels in the party to everyone having a beacon, shovel and probe, to more sophisticated beacons (that sense heart-rate among other things) to airbags and avalungs and helmets. At some point, people will be carrying so much junk about they won't actually be able to ski any reasonable distance.

It is scary common to encounter people carrying every piece of gear who can't assess a slope, can't navigate without a GPS track to follow, can't move fast because of the gear on their backs and the surfboard sized skis on their feet that they need because they always "ski powder" (yeah right). And, even scarier, they have bought the most recent top of the line avalanche beacon and can't use the thing because it's too complicated!

Personally, after giving it much thought, I decided to continue skiing without a helmet, airbag, avalung or GPS. On some trips, it isn't even necessary for everyone in the party to have a shovel, nice but not necessary.

It's actually refreshing to have another look at the stats on airbags, although it won't affect the choices gear junkies (who seem to confuse having masses of gear with having masses of experience - you know who you are). The Canadian ski experience is very different from the European one as so many of our avalanche incidents are in treed terrain whereas in Europe everything is wide open.

Most people would be better served by improving their skills than carrying another piece of gear, but, that requires way more effort than ponying up to the local MEC store and plunking down some cash.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2013, 12:53 PM
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One of the reasons why the beacon/shovel/probe is so common is that these things are required for you to be able to rescue others in your party. An ABS only really helps to keep yourself safe. I won't ski avi terrain with someone who doesn't have a beacon and a shovel. I don't really care if they have an ABS though, because that doesn't do a lot to make things safer for me.

Also, I've looked at a couple ABS bags and they kinda sucked for anything besides slack-country skiing.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2013, 02:21 PM
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I agree with many of Sandy's points, but the ability to assess conditions and travel quickly and safely has nothing to do with wearing or not wearing an airbag pack.

I have really noticed a trend in the backcountry and it has nothing to do with equipment. A couple of weeks ago I was out on a trip and we decided to ski a certain slope. We got onto it, and then got into it. I knew there was some wind loading, but it wasn't until we got into the snow that we found a pretty scary windslab buried abut 30cm down. When we cut the back of the column, the slab popped right out. It was super reactive.

We decided to find something else. Just as we were filling in the pit, a couple skinned right by us. Didn't ask what we found, didn't care. Didn't say a thing to us. We skied down to the meadow and had a bite to eat. The couple skinned past a large rock in the slope (thinner pack) and released a bit of the slab. They decided to ski down from that point.

In the last couple of years the only people I see assessing conditions are guides and the group I'm with. It's funny, as most recreationalists assume we're a guided group (I've been asked who I work for many times) just because we're digging and discussing conditions. This is also true of terrain and aspect choices.

I never assume that someone that has technology neither knows not how to use it, or could not function without it. I carry a GPS, but can navigate well with my eyes (oddly, lots of people never think to look around) and a map and compass. I love my fat skis, but I never lag behind anyone or complain about the weight. In fact, I'm usually breaking trail and the first one to the top of anything. We practice with our beacons.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2013, 04:59 PM
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There is wide trend toward solving lots of problems with just technology, something that our society has chosen not to debate. Avalanche safety is just a tiny part of this shift.

I'd say though that a person that carries and knows how to use beacon, shovel, probe plus ABS pack AND knows how to choose safe passage will have better overall chances of surviving.

The question is does someone who has the latest gear but does not know how to use it (I believe there was at least one case where the handle was not properly attached to the ABS system and the airbags did not deploy resulting in fatality, I read it in one of those studies but cannot find it now) has better chance than someone who has no safety gear but knows how to choose safe passage?
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2013, 05:00 PM
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quote:Originally posted by trick

One of the reasons why the beacon/shovel/probe is so common is that these things are required for you to be able to rescue others in your party. An ABS only really helps to keep yourself safe. I won't ski avi terrain with someone who doesn't have a beacon and a shovel. I don't really care if they have an ABS though, because that doesn't do a lot to make things safer for me.
I totally agree Alan!
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