Avalanche Beacons Inbounds?

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Avalanche Beacons Inbounds?

Postby longboardkook » Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:50 pm

So I have posed this question to a couple of ski patrollers (the last being yesterday at a Backcountry Avalanche Awareness presentation at the REI in Denver)......... Are Avalanche Beacons Worth Carrying Inbounds?

Shockingly or maybe not shockingly, the answer to me has been, "Yes it is worth doing so." Kind of rocks my confidence in avalanche control within the boundaries of ski areas that have gnarly terrain.

I was riding Ski Loveland's bowls many years ago and shot a crack across the top of one of the bowls that had some nice powder ready to be hit. Luckily it didn't slide but it scared the living crap out of me. I ever so cautiously hiked back away from the crack and up to the top of the ridge and we dropped in on another safer spot. Ski patrol came and closed the bowl off when we all made it down to the bottom. Talk about some inbounds craziness. Who would have thought something like that would happen in the resort.

I have done some research: Unmanaged inbounds slides are very rare and fatalities due to avalanches in bounds is even rarer. But it does happen and people have died inbounds due to slides.

So fast forward to a recent year up on the same bowls at Loveland. The last snow fall had come earlier that week and it was a good dump of snow just sitting there, the sun had been out a few days, avalanche danger was dropping, and there we were standing in front of the closed off bowls watching ski patrol toss bombs for avalanche control. So they toss a bomb, it goes off, nothing happens other than a crater. Up comes the patrol and they open up the bowl. We scored first turns without any problems but I had these bad thoughts in my head. Why did they toss the bomb? Was it really an avalanche threat? What if the bomb just fractured something in the snow layers? If it did slide on us,how would they find us?

Well, I'm wearing a beacon now when I even think that there is a possibility that we will be chasing untouched powder inbounds and on the hairy edge of the resort. Call me a whatever. Say I am too cautious. Take a look at the statistics on how long you can last under an avalanche. After 15 minutes your chances drop to almost nothing. I bet they couldn't even get patrollers to the top of the slide within 10 minutes, none the less start a methodical search for someone without a radio signal of where they are.

Guess my other choice is to stay on the groomers. Then again, I'll take my risks dropping in on the inbounds powder stashes but I'm going to try to manage those risks even if it means wearing a beacon.

I have met one guy other than my brother and I wearing a beacon inbounds that was not a ski patroller.

Anybody else carry a beacon inbounds?

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Re: Avalanche Beacons Inbounds?

Postby John2 » Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:09 pm

I haven't done so, but you make some good points. The statistics may favor you, even in bound, but statistics mean nothing if it's your own life that ends.
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