Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Can Technology Solve All Our Problems?

A recent first hand report from a survivor of a four person (two fatality) avalanche involvement in the backcountry outside of Smithers has brought out the usual internet discussion of the incident. Although I don't usually forward along these accounts, this one is particularly compelling and I sent it on to a few select ski touring buddies. Interestingly, the bulk of discussion, both on-line and from my own ski touring friends, has focused on the possible malfunction of an avalanche beacon and very little has focused on group dynamics.

The whole thing reminds of teaching navigation courses where people commonly tell me that they have got, will get or are thinking of getting a GPS and appear to hold the somewhat magical belief that having a GPS will solve all their navigation issues. Now, those of us who wander around the mountains know that while a GPS can be a handy tool, it is no substitute for good map reading skills.

Comparatively, having an avalanche transceiver is no substitute for not getting all four members of the party caught in an avalanche IN a terrain trap in the first place.

To read the survivors first hand account go here. For the most insightful and honest analysis go here. The rest of the discussion, frankly, adds nothing. 

 What Happens If This Slope Releases?

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