Just a few days ago, while gazing over at the destruction from the recent avalanche in Bear Pits at Crystal Mountain, a fellow patroller and I discussed the merits of the
avalanche floatation backpacks. Essentially these contraptions are designed to keep an avalanche victim on the surface if caught in a slide with large balloons that inflate with the pull of a string, much like a PFD would do in the water.
A few patrollers have tested BCA’s Float 30 airbag, wearing it on avalanche control days. The system fits inside a backpack with room for shovel, probe and other equipment. It adds a bit of weight and bulk to an already heavy pack loaded with explosives. But as you’ll see in the video below, that extra 8 lbs just might save your life.
Check out this video below of a skier in Alaska getting caught in an avalanche and deploying the unit, which keeps him on top. I find this video a little horrifying, especially the moment when the slab starts to break up and the skier hesitates. I can only imagine what’s going through his mind. Oh no. What do I do now? But surprisingly, through it all, the guy never screams or says a word–the audio only picks up the sound of the snow and air moving across the mic. I’d say this guy is one lucky dude.