When you live in Maine, kids are raised pretty much outdoors and winter snow skiing on the fun check list.
Our recreation, work is four seasons. Winter down hill snow skiing complements pond hockey, ice fishing, snow sledding in Maine. So when your Maine family enjoys down hill, cross country snow skiing, the kids grow up to carry on the leisure activity. Some gravitate to places like Colorado.
Two sons were skiing together at A Basin in Colorado over the weekend. Luckily Saturday they missed a snow avalanche that hit fifteen skiiers at A Basin. My son has asked for a snow avalanche locator beacon for back country skiing safety. So being found under snow can happen because time is critical when air is cut off. You find yourself under layers of shifting avalanche snow at Arapahoe Basin, other Colorado ski areas.
A skiing avalanche, it’s a bigger deal than when your a Maine kid in a snow tunnel you carve out with your neighborhood friends in the backyard.
Making rooms under a mountain of snow that plow trucks deposit. Knowing in construction kicking, using hands, shovels that not much for overhead tunnel support. And that if you ever got claustrophobic, you could bust up through the bright spot. Get up and out without any worries. To fresh Maine air and safety away from tight panic attack close quarters.
Son Alex was working one of the A Basin ski lifts this past Saturday. Wondered why ski patrol sleds were zipping by. Return chairs higher up the mountain had return skiiers wearing only one board. Missing poles, other standard equipment signaling something was wrong. One skiier in the A Basin party was completely buried under a snow avalanche. Luckily his partner saw him disappear and exactly where. And by hand scrambled to dig himself out. Then the endangered out of sight buried lost on radar skiier. Luckily knowing his last seen whereabouts before the snow pile up avalanche hit.
Special safety ski equipment is needed for natural terrain, hidden outback areas closed to the general public.
Avalanche beacons cost around $300. Alex says there are snorkels to breath out the back, parachute like brightly colored orange inflating ballons too that are on top of special back backs. That have CO 2 cartridges to explode like blowing up an accident dash air bag. To create air space in the snow around the skiier to help mobility. To aid the buried avalanche skier to show up. Be spotted by safety patrol rescurers. Frantic, but trained to know where, how to dig. While the highly critical avalanche rescue time is ticking away. When it’s life and death to get your under snow, disappeared skiier uncovered. Back to unlimited fresh air.
You only have a couple minutes max of cavity air when buried alive in a snow ski avalanche. And as you breath, if you don’t keep a clear head and can not relax, the snow becomes crystalized, turns to ice quickly with each life ending breath exhaled. Like being underwater. Flailing, wasting energy, panic does not help the serious accident situation. With the little air you can not afford to fritter away.
My oldest son and his brother Elliot, his girlfriend Cindy did get to ski A Basin after Alex was off work.
But the Colorado avalanche was a grim reminder that snow falls happen. Unlike skiing in Maine. This avalanche triggered to actually shift to the point of bare ground showing where the snow was. Before it shifted, slid, rumbled, thundered down the back country terrain mountain side. Picking up speed where there are no groomed trails. Outback areas that are only available for skiing with inked at your own risk legal waivers signed. And expert abilities experienced skiers partnered with an A Basin trained guide who does not want to die either.
Spring time will uncover lost snow skis, ripped off equipment of the party of fifteen. At the Montezuma Bowl that remains closed today at Araphoe Basin ski area in Summit County, after February 18th, Saturday’s avalanche. Like forest fire danger conditions in Maine, Colorado’s Avalanche Information Center tracks the probability of a sudden release of side mountain snow.
It does make you think when you kid asks at Christmas for what he wants and it is an avalanche probe, a safety beacon rescue ski signal transmitter. The sports get more dangerous the older, more serious we get right?
Maine, big state, she’ll take your breath away. In a good way.