NOLS WOE Tetons Ski Mountaineering Expedition: Day 16 – Avalanche Rescue Training in a Blizzard

We’ve now moved on from snow science and recovery tool usage, and are going directly into full on avalanche rescue scenarios. Notes:

  • Originally planned as a rest day, turned into avalanche rescue training day on account of extreme cold and blizzard conditions.
  • Practiced multiple victim avalanche burial recovery scenarios with shovels/beacons/probes.
  • In addition to using each other as victims, we also put avalanche beacons inside backpacks and buries the backpacks in the snow. This provides us with a realistic beacon locating scenario, since backpacks can be buried deep under the snow. Deep burial makes locating beacons more tricky, and precision shoveling without injuring the victim more involved.
  • For practice, we were split into two teams – one team staging the slide area, and one team acting as rescuers. When it was my teams turn to stage the field, I was chosen to be the buried victim. Reminiscent to this past summer when I was the hypothermia vicim during Wilderness First Responder training.
  • Day concluded with a massive storm blowing in, forcing us back to our snow shelters.
  • Stormclouds cleared just in time to reveal a beautiful sunset behind the Teton Mountains.