Avalanche Airbags – They Don’t Make You Invincible…

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Photo: Hansi Heckmair/ABS
Deployed avy airbag in small point release wet avalanche.  photo: Hansi Heckmair/ABS

Our good friend, SnowBrains author, and skier with more avalanche terrain experience the most of us combined, D’Arcy McLeish, just wrote this great piece for Last Frontier Heli in Northern British Columbia about Avalanche Airbags.D’Arcy touches on some very important topics that we all need to keep in mind when we’re using avalanche airbags.

(video of avy airbag being used in a real avalanche)

“While I am supportive and encouraged by any new product designed to save your life and minimize risk in the backcountry, none of these things can ever be a substitute for experience, caution, and careful decision-making. You have only to chat to any ski guide to understand that when they take a group out, they are using a little technology and a boat load of experience. I’ve spoken before about your mountain sense, and ski guides tend to have it honed into a sharp instinct. But one guide I spoke to illustrated one of the dangers of having so much readily accessible technology designed for avalanche safety. The problem with a lot of the new products out there is that they tend to make the average backcountry user feel a little invincible, and that’s dangerous.”

Venturing out into the mountains and thinking a beacon and an ABS bag will keep you safe no matter what the conditions is just plain idiotic. It’s important to understand that an ABS bag is merely a tool that goes along with experience, a good dose of humility and a deep respect for mother nature.” – D’Arcy McLeish/Last Frontier Heli

Read the full article here:  



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6 thoughts on “Avalanche Airbags – They Don’t Make You Invincible…

  1. Hit a tree or large rock riding an avalanche you are a goner anyway. Doesn’t matter if you have
    one of these airbags or not.

  2. There is a lot of “new” technology coming online recently, and how do we make sure that current avy education keeps up with and covers the risks, benefits and myths accordingly. Airbags are a good step forward but are still no match for terrain traps, strainer trees or cliff bands, to name a few hazards you could end up in/through. There is no silver bullet and most likely there never will be. It’s a game of chance we each play each and every time we enter into avalanche terrain. Getting this message across throughout the community and in front of new bc travelers is important. Videos and discussions like this help illuminate the issue even more. Thanks for posting this.

  3. I think avy bags are even making people make more aggressive calls in the backcountry. It’s a bizarre psychological game.

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