Will you take THE AVALANCHE CHALLENGE??

christopher

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The Avy Challenge started very simply, while watching some helmet cam video footage of a snowmobile burial and rescue. The camera rolled for a couple of minutes while the sledder was buried and his friends were looking for him. You could actually hear the search happening along with the heavy breathing, and a little struggling, of the victim. I have seen a number of similar videos, but for some reason this one freaked me out. I put myself in this persons shoes and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Fortunately, everyone involved were prepared and knew what to do, leading to a good outcome. After watching that video I swore that I would never ride in the backcountry without being prepared AND ensuring that those I am with are prepared as well.


I thought I would let the world know about my own commitment and extend the opportunity to others as well. It is a simple thing, but perhaps it will save a life or two (maybe even your own). If you and/or your fellow riders aren’t 100% avy prepared, give it some thought and take the challenge. If you already practice good backcountry habits, sign your name and let everyone else know what you stand for.


My hope is that this simple effort grows over time and turns into an avalanche preparedness movement, one that leads by example and maybe even exerts a little peer pressure. I sincerely hope it goes beyond this page and my efforts. Spread the word in the forums, on Facebook, in your clubs, etc.


If you have any thoughts please feel free to contact me via the “contact us” link at the top of the page. I have also enabled comments on this page.


Ben Hansen


=============


http://www.avychallenge.com/


We are starting a new program (a movement hopefully) called the Avy Challenge. We will be partnering with a variety of organizations to help make this a reality. Please spread the word.


The first part is really simple:
Commit to always wearing a beacon and carrying proper gear whenever riding in the backcountry
.



The second part will take a little more commitment:
Commit to never riding with others in the backcountry unless your riding partner(s) are carrying beacons and gear as well.



Along with this there is a commitment to training, education and good decision making.
Proper gear is not effective unless you know how to use it AND use your head
.


A simple concept really, but very powerful. You are protecting yourself and encouraging others to be safe as well. Will you bow out of a ride or two, maybe. Will you have to tell someone they need to be better prepared, possibly. However, this is a small price to pay for being avy aware and ready.


Let the world know you are committed to avalanche safety and sign below (email addresses are for confirmation only and will not be displayed).
 

rmk2112

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I made the same commitment after hearing and reading about the Avy during the Big Iron Shootout

I have my gear (beacon, shovel, probe, Rino)and ride with it every time. I also bought a second beacon to give to someone in the group who doesn't have on...I want to be able to find them in case of a Avy.....BUT just as important, I WANT TO BE FOUND TOO!!

The rules are simple:

1. have you gear - Beacon, Probe & Shovel
2. it must be in working order
3. know how to use it

OR

Stay at the truck or go home, you're not riding with us today
 
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mikew5945

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I am with you 100%. Each member of our group has beacons, probes, shovels and avy bags. Any and all training is a good thing. Step up or step out.
 

fasta76

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Our group of 12 of us all did the avy course together last year. Best thing we ever did as a group. We also carry extra gear in case somebody forgot theirs at home. We never ride without it!
 

Powderhound

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The Avy Challenge started very simply, while watching some helmet cam video footage of a snowmobile burial and rescue. The camera rolled for a couple of minutes while the sledder was buried and his friends were looking for him. You could actually hear the search happening along with the heavy breathing, and a little struggling, of the victim. I have seen a number of similar videos, but for some reason this one freaked me out. I put myself in this persons shoes and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Fortunately, everyone involved were prepared and knew what to do, leading to a good outcome. After watching that video I swore that I would never ride in the backcountry without being prepared AND ensuring that those I am with are prepared as well.


I thought I would let the world know about my own commitment and extend the opportunity to others as well. It is a simple thing, but perhaps it will save a life or two (maybe even your own). If you and/or your fellow riders aren’t 100% avy prepared, give it some thought and take the challenge. If you already practice good backcountry habits, sign your name and let everyone else know what you stand for.


My hope is that this simple effort grows over time and turns into an avalanche preparedness movement, one that leads by example and maybe even exerts a little peer pressure. I sincerely hope it goes beyond this page and my efforts. Spread the word in the forums, on Facebook, in your clubs, etc.


If you have any thoughts please feel free to contact me via the “contact us” link at the top of the page. I have also enabled comments on this page.


Ben Hansen


=============


http://www.avychallenge.com/


We are starting a new program (a movement hopefully) called the Avy Challenge. We will be partnering with a variety of organizations to help make this a reality. Please spread the word.


The first part is really simple:
Commit to always wearing a beacon and carrying proper gear whenever riding in the backcountry
.



The second part will take a little more commitment:
Commit to never riding with others in the backcountry unless your riding partner(s) are carrying beacons and gear as well.



Along with this there is a commitment to training, education and good decision making.
Proper gear is not effective unless you know how to use it AND use your head
.


A simple concept really, but very powerful. You are protecting yourself and encouraging others to be safe as well. Will you bow out of a ride or two, maybe. Will you have to tell someone they need to be better prepared, possibly. However, this is a small price to pay for being avy aware and ready.


Let the world know you are committed to avalanche safety and sign below (email addresses are for confirmation only and will not be displayed).


Do you have the link to that video of the guy buried with his buddies looking for him?
 
Dec 2, 2007
177
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Aurora, CO
I wish I could get more on board with the concept of avy equipment, but years of real life sledding have shown that there are unintended consequences.

Firstly, so many young guys get a beacon, feel invinceable, and head right towards the steepest slopes and recklessly risk the lives of everyone in their group. The change in behavior is amazing and dissapointing to watch.

Second, the beacons are great body recovery devices. I know they can help save someone, so for that reason alone, they have merit. You are are not as protected as you think, but some lives might be saved if not for the recklessness that accompanies beacon wearers.

So, when I hear suggestions that you either wear a beacon or don't ride with a group, I say fine. Statistically, the people who wear beacons are much more likely to be involved in a slide. I choose to ride with people that engage their brain, and practice avalanche avoidance. I've never been caught in an avalanche when I'm hundreds of yards away from those slopes.

So to summarize for those who will be offended: of course it's not the actual beacon that I object to! It's the greater risk assumption that it seems to bring on! I've seen it over, and over, and over, and over again.

Ride safe!
 
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Jan 16, 2010
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I wish I could get more on board with the concept of avy equipment, but years of real life sledding have shown that there are unintended consequences.

Firstly, so many young guys get a beacon, feel invinceable, and head right towards the steepest slopes and recklessly risk the lives of everyone in their group. The change in behavior is amazing and dissapointing to watch.

Second, the beacons are great body recovery devices. I know they can help save someone, so for that reason alone, they have merit. You are are not as protected as you think, but some lives might be saved if not for the recklessness that accompanies beacon wearers.

So, when I hear suggestions that you either wear a beacon or don't ride with a group, I say fine. Statistically, the people who wear beacons are much more likely to be involved in a slide. I choose to ride with people that engage their brain, and practice avalanche avoidance. I've never been caught in an avalanche when I'm hundreds of yards away from those slopes.

So to summarize for those who will be offended: of course it's not the actual beacon that I object to! It's the greater risk assumption that it seems to bring on! I've seen it over, and over, and over, and over again.

Ride safe!
That is one of the stupidest things I have ever read. Read the Moffit Basin avy death thread from a couple days ago in here and you will see why. If you ride with people who engage their brain, I assume you all carry beacons and full gear and have taken several avy courses? Avalanche avoidance?? Do you drive to Kansas to ride? You must know an awful lot about snow science if you ride in the mountains of Colorado and can avoid all avalanches, or do you just ride an old Tundra in a field?.

Of course people wearing beacons are more likely to be caught in a slide. Most people are smart enough to wear one if they are going into avy terrain.

Why wouldnt you carry something that is the same size as your wallet, weighs as much as half a beer and costs less then that fancy new part you just put on your sled and gives your friends a good chance at saving your life if things go sideways?? Does wearing a beacon actually bother anyone? Load your pack with all the gear you normally carry except your shovel and probe and put it on. Then add the shovel and probe and see if you can tell the difference in weight. I'll bet you cant.
 

christopher

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So to summarize for those who will be offended: of course it's not the actual beacon that I object to! It's the greater risk assumption that it seems to bring on! I've seen it over, and over, and over, and over again.

Ride safe!
Strange,.
I spent years and years in Civil Air Patrol doing aircraft search and rescue.
And time and time again I found that crashed airplanes had Emergency Locator Transmitters in them that had been activated by the crash.

But it never dawned on me that all those foolish pilots were engaged greater risk assumption JUST BECAUSE THEY HAD A BEACON on their plane.


I could not more strongly disagree with your point.

An Avalanche Pack, Beacon, Shovel, Probe and proper training all show a MASSIVELY INCREASED awareness of the real danger that is out there waiting for any and all mountain riders.

Sure wish that every single one of the spectators at last year's Big Iron Shootout had had a beacon strapped on and turned on.
 
Dec 2, 2007
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Aurora, CO
You two are, sadly, missing the point. You just argued that beacons have a chance of saving lives, which I conceded, and completely ignored my objection to them, which is the behavioral change that accompanies them.

I stated that there is a chance that a beacon will help find someone, and therefore has merit. Did you miss that part? Reading comprehension, guys!

If you deny that there are people that get beacons and then engage in riskier behavior as a result, then you haven't been riding where I have, which is almost everywhere.

The airplane analogy is flawed. Every plane has an ELT, and pilots do not therefore engage in riskier behavior knowing that their bodies will be located quicker due to the ELT. Young guys with beacons? Heading right to the slide areas to climb hills.

And the stupid comment? That's a tactic for someone who doesn't have an argument. You are missing the subleties of my statements, which you know are true, but taking this as an anti-beacon, anti-preparededness position, which of course I don't have. My entire point is about the reckless behavior change that happens. This is exactly what happens when someone's sacred cows are questioned.

Convince me that people who have beacons don't rely on them as a crutch and assume more risk. I'm listening, and want to believe otherwise, but my eyes sure work. Come one! Convince me that my observations about the behavior change are wrong. Don't argue that having a beacon is better than not having one. That's a foregone conclusion. Let's have intelligent discourse rather than close-minded groupthink.
 
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CatWoman

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I don't feel that because someone gets a beacon that their behavior changes. These kind of folks are the ones that will be doing that same kind of thing whether or not they have a beacon. Same as getting a higher HP sled, and pushing it's limits. Or a faster car and speeding down the highway. Or any number of other things. Some people engage in risky behavior at various things in life no matter what. It's not the beacon that is the reason for this. They would be doing the same thing anyway. Statisically, young men do partake in more risky behavior. Look at vehicle insurance rates.

Lack of education is more a cause of risky/reckless behavior in life than anything else. Education from parents as a child grows, from peers, and educating one's self.

I won't ride with someone whom doesn't have the proper gear AND training. Same as I won't get in a vehicle with a drunk driver. I have a choice, and my choice is to not put myself into a situation that is going to threaten my life because of someone else's poor decision making. My choice is to also try to educate those who need it, and/or want it.

Leardriver....you say you are seeing this, what are you doing to help? What are YOU doing to help educate? You're saying that these young guys are doing this because of getting gear, so you must have some knowledge that it is new to them, why aren't you helping? If you have this knowledge that young guys are getting beacons, something you've repeatedly seen, then going and engaging in reckless behavior....why aren't you doing something? Is what you are saying fact (and you know it's brand new gear), or is this just an assumption on your part? I'm truly interested in your answer.

We as sledders/snowmobilers need to help educate our own. We need to educate our kids, grandkids, nieces & nephews, cousins, our friends kids, etc. We need to not overlook educating the young ones so they have a good base for when they are older and go out on their own. We also need to educate those new to the sport. WE can make a difference. :)

The Avy Challenge is a great thing! It's focused on not just the proper gear, but also the training/education. We choose to help to educate others. We choose to use our heads.
 
Dec 2, 2007
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Aurora, CO
Sorry, I don't buy the drunk driver analogy. That's suicidal, not a calculated risk.

What am I doing to educate? Trying to call attention right here for one thing. If you haven't witnessed the behavior change with beacons, where young men think they have an S on their chest, then I don't know how to convince you. I have pleaded with riders until I'm blue in the face to reconsider climbing a hill where I've seen slides, and pointed out the avalanche crumbs, as I call them. That's what I'm doing. I'm trying to keep a discussion going here, and yet you make the accusation that I'm not helping. What do you think this is? Typing practice? I spend a huge amount of time in the back country, and like to think that I have some good experience. I'm just not one of the few people that post over and over again. I learn more by reading and listening than I do flapping my gums.

Part of the solution is to have an open mind and consider the real source of avalanche deaths, which is a little bit bad luck and a whole lot of risky behavior. Changing the behavior will save a thousand times more lives than the beacons. And the beacons, in my opinion, often have the unintended consequence of giving a false sense of security to some.

Wear a beacon! it can't hurt. Just spare me any self-serving speech about not wanting to ride with anyone who doesn't have your approved uniform on. That sounds like Harley rider speak. If you're not like us, you can't play with us. I love introducing new people to the joys or our sport, and I always encourage them to be prepared in every way.

I love climbing hills, and am decent at it. I just have to restrain myself at times. My comments here are being purposely misunderstood, because we as a group don't want to look in the mirror and challenge behavior, we would rather put electronics on the job. You guys can continue to criticize the messenger, I have thick skin. Years of police work and search and rescue.

i agree about classes for avy awareness. That's a great idea. Who could oppose that?
 
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christopher

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As a Pilot, knowing that I have an ELT in the back of my tail does NOT increase my likelihood of flying through more "risky" environments.
It does not make me feel safer in IFR, or over mountainsm over the ocean or flying at any other time or place. Neither does the GPS, Moving Map, Mountainscape or the handheld 2m radio I carry. But I don't climb into the cockpit with out them either. They are tools that I take with me.


Likewise.
When I go sledding, REGARDLESS of where, I carry my emergency pack, turn on my beacon, have my Cell Phone, my Rino/GPS and my Personal Locator Beacon. None of which make me feel any more FEARLESS, but all of which are tools that I am simply not willing to leave home without because I know all to well that no matter how well you plan, there are times when the Fecal Matter Hits the Rotary Oscillator and everything turns to crap in a single heartbeat.

Its happened in my plane, its happened on my sled, its happened in my truck.

Things go wrong no matter how well we plan. Planing and preparing for eventualities is a sign of personal responsibility, which tends to go against the concept of thinking your Superman and able to go where others fear to tread.

What little experience I have strongly suggests that the vast overwhelming number of mountain riders do NOT carry a beacon, and yet they still engage in the inherently risky behavior of Mountain Riding. Of that same pool of riders, a few will rise up and decide to make the investment of both Time and Money to buy the proper gear and obtain the proper training to be safer mountain riders.

I simply see the exact opposite of what you do.

Those that more fully understand the risk for what it is, wear beacons.

Those that don't, ride on blindly.
 
Jan 16, 2010
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You two are, sadly, missing the point. You just argued that beacons have a chance of saving lives, which I conceded, and completely ignored my objection to them, which is the behavioral change that accompanies them.

I stated that there is a chance that a beacon will help find someone, and therefore has merit. Did you miss that part? Reading comprehension, guys!

If you deny that there are people that get beacons and then engage in riskier behavior as a result, then you haven't been riding where I have, which is almost everywhere.

The airplane analogy is flawed. Every plane has an ELT, and pilots do not therefore engage in riskier behavior knowing that their bodies will be located quicker due to the ELT. Young guys with beacons? Heading right to the slide areas to climb hills.

And the stupid comment? That's a tactic for someone who doesn't have an argument. You are missing the subleties of my statements, which you know are true, but taking this as an anti-beacon, anti-preparededness position, which of course I don't have. My entire point is about the reckless behavior change that happens. This is exactly what happens when someone's sacred cows are questioned.

Convince me that people who have beacons don't rely on them as a crutch and assume more risk. I'm listening, and want to believe otherwise, but my eyes sure work. Come one! Convince me that my observations about the behavior change are wrong. Don't argue that having a beacon is better than not having one. That's a foregone conclusion. Let's have intelligent discourse rather than close-minded groupthink.
I think Christopher already made the point when he said that people with proper gear and training show a massively increased awarness of avalanche danger. By wearing the proper gear you have shown that you know that there is a possibility of slides. I have never seen anyone throw caution to the wind just because they have a beacon. By purchasing a beacon you have realized the possibility that you could buried alive, a fate no one wants to suffer. That usually makes people more cautious.

Your comment about drunk driving in your later post surprises me. Drunk driving is suicidal but riding without proper gear and training is not?? tell that to the guy who was probably standing on top of his buddy in Moffit Basin while he suffocated.

Gear is nothing without training and experience, they all go together
 
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Dec 7, 2007
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just curious how many people dig a pit and evaluate the snow before they start climbing after a big dump, and know what to look for in that pit? The problem with the beacon probe and shovel movement is that they are recovery tools. The most important tool that you have is your brain (assuming its trained). Minimizing your exposure is the best practice, not always possible, but minimizing is the key word. just my .02
 
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CatWoman

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To the drunk driver it's a calculated risk (others may see it as suicidal, but not the driver). None of them ever think they are going to get into an accident...and they sure aren't getting behind the wheel thinking that they are going to kill themselves because of drinking & driving.

I have stood in front of classes....and attended many others. Many folks get gear for the first time after taking a class. I have come across a lot of these folks, while out riding, over the many years I've been involved in this. I'm not witnessing what you say you are. Those that have been educated and get the proper equipment aren't riding like they have some big "S" on their chests.

I do go talk to folks while out riding. I carry avy brochures in my pack to hand out. I'm not afraid to go talk to people. I can say for fact in my experience, it's the ones without any kind of training....nor wearing a beacon, that are the ones I see doing things to put their lives at risk from an avalanche.

Pits are a good idea, though we all know we cover a lot of terrain in a day. Again, using your head and training, one can minimize their risk. I don't recall a single ride where folks don't get stuck. There are some fairly deep trenches dug from our sleds. It's very easy to hop in them and take a look at the snow pack.

Yes it is self serving to not ride with others whom don't have gear AND training. It is MY life. It's not about not wanting to ride with those folks, it's a choice NOT to do it. The Avy Challenge isn't just about having the equipment, it's also about education and using your head. It goes hand in hand. You don't separate one part of it out, it's a package deal.
 
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