Is 5 3 Tall For An 11 Year Old Boy How to Self-Rescue While Snow Skiing in Deep Powder

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How to Self-Rescue While Snow Skiing in Deep Powder

I wanted to cover deep snow safety today because skiers die needlessly every year because they couldn’t save themselves in deep snow.

I skied Mammoth Mountain today just after 10.5 – 15.5 feet of new snow fell. I skied today because it’s supposed to snow this afternoon and tomorrow. I skied about 6 runs this morning in mostly knee deep, pretty heavy snow. And just when I thought my balance was perfect, I was 10? tall and bulletproof, I did something strange and fell into bottomless dust in the trees. I had snow in my mouth when I fell, and it always gives me a shortness of breath/claustrophobic feeling.

I fell lightly with my skis to the left and my body to the right. I suddenly knew it was going to be really hard to get up and out of this bottomless powder. So I took a moment, took a few deep breaths, and approached my situation. I was somewhere in the trees and it was unlikely that anyone would find me.

I should have saved myself. I knew from experience that I was in bottomless powder, and my poles would be of little help. Some say to make a “t” with your poles and lean on them, but that would never work. The powder was too deep, and deep powder presents unique challenges that are potentially life-threatening. That’s why we have to be ready. Larger pole baskets are useful for pushing on powder days, but don’t provide enough resistance to help you get up after a fall. Since my body is heavier than boots and skis, the more I struggle and move, the lower my body will sink putting my feet above my head.

In this case I was able to slowly over a period of about 2 minutes move my butt to be higher over my skis by pulling my body mass over the skis by pulling my legs under my knees. The last part was hard because I had nothing to lean on, but I knew I could get up if I could make this last move to get my butt over the back of the ski. So I pulled my legs back one more time because I knew that would give me the resistance I needed.

I managed to get up, now about 5 minutes after I fell. Both skis were on my feet and sunk deep into the snow. I slowly raised my right, breaking the surface of the snow to get myself more upright. Then I did the same with the left ski. OK, I finally managed to get back to the groomed part of the run and complete the self-rescue from the bottomless powder.

In another blog post, I detailed how to find bottomless powder skis which can be challenging. Search this blog’s search box for “lost ski” or “find lost ski”, and it should come up. My method has always been able to quickly find a lost ski, so you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

But I still want to cover what happened to me on June Mt. as a kid. It was a week with 8 feet of new snow on June Mountain. I successfully skied the face, but I fell and blew a huge hole in the flat section at the bottom. At first I kind of panicked and tried to get up. But the more I struggled, the more I sank into the dust, making the hole deeper and deeper. It got to the point where I was 8 feet down in this hole, and I still couldn’t get up.

I knew no one had skied the face that day. If the ski patroller drove by, he wouldn’t hear my cries or see me unless he saw the path to my hole. I couldn’t count on that!

I was only 11 years old and had to be resourceful to save myself, otherwise I could have been there all night and frozen to death. I decided to take a break. I took out the camera I had in my pocket and took a photo from the bottom of my 8 foot deep hole. I tried to push the sticks to hit something solid, and sank them up to my shoulders. I didn’t hit anything that could support me.

I thought some more and finally realized that I could take off 1 ski and use it horizontally as a form of support. I was able to get 1 ski off and by holding the side of the ski and digging into the grip, pull myself up to a standing position this way. I then pulled my upper body up and stepped sideways up the side of the hole. I continued to do this until I got to where I was only up to my knees again.

I put the ski back on and managed to make my way back to the lift. Remember this technique if you get stuck in a hole in deep powder. This same self-rescue strategy could work to get you out of a well, which can be fatal if you don’t know what to do. More information on what to do if you get stuck in a tree well is at: http://www.treewelldeepsnowsafety.com. There are some really good safety tips on that page that I haven’t covered here.

I can tell you from experience that it is easier to learn these proven self-rescue techniques from someone else than to have to invent a rescue technique when you get stuck. People die from getting stuck in deep dust. I have given you 2 self-rescue techniques. I also recommend that you always wear a whistle when skiing in trees. It could give you the ability to call for help where you can’t be seen. I also recommend carrying a fully charged cell phone with the Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol phone number programmed into your phone. This way, when you get hurt, you can call for help and tell them where you are. You should program within ICE for In Case of Emergency, your contact person in the event of an injury or emergency. Emergency personnel know to look for it in your cell phone, so you need to program your emergency phone number there so they can find it if they need it.

Other emergency items I carry because I ski trees are:

1) Small knife – Can cut you from a tree, or fillet a fish or squirrel if you have to.

2) I told you about the whistle – It can help the ski patrol hear you when they clean the mountain for the last time at closing.

3) Lighter – If you had to spend the night, lighting a fire could save you from freezing to death.

4) Your mobile phone is programmed as recommended above.

5) Cliff Bar – They have a lower freezing point so you won’t have to chew a rock solid snack bar.

6) A fleece balaclava – can really increase heat retention in the wind, and if you get stuck overnight.

7) Ski Helmet – Wear a helmet every time you ski. You cannot predict when a dangerous situation will arise. 80% of fatal skiing injuries could have been prevented simply by wearing a helmet.

I photocopy my driver’s license and medical card so if I pass out they know who I am from my driver’s license. And they know my “ICE” emergency person to call because it’s programmed into my cell phone that I have with me all day.

Being prepared and informed can save your life or prevent you from being stranded in the woods for hours or overnight. If you’re just skiing groomed trails, you only need about 1/2 of this stuff. But I like to dip into my stash of powder, so I keep this packed in my ski jacket at all times so I’ll have it if I ever need it. Teach your family, friends and loved ones these deep snow self-rescue techniques so they know what to do in this potentially life-threatening situation. Be safe on the slopes!

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