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Deep Pow = Tree Well Hazards

Brundage News &
Mountain Blog

Deep Pow = Tree Well Hazards

01/28/21

Tree WellAs the allure of fresh, forgiving powder begins to pull more and more people off-trail, we want to remind everyone about a mountain feature that is NOT forgiving in these conditions: Tree Wells.

A tree well is a void or depression that forms around the base of a tree and can contain a mix of low hanging branches, loose snow and air. Evergreen trees in particular can have large, deep tree wells that form when low hanging branches block snow from filling in and consolidating around the base of the tree. These voids can be hidden from view by the tree’s low hanging branches.

There is no easy way to identify if a particular tree has a dangerous tree well by sight therefore, treat all tree wells as dangerous.

Tree wells make it more important than ever to ski or ride with a buddy, and to keep your ‘eyes on’ your buddy as you ride. 90% of people involved in Tree Well/ SIS hazard research experiments could NOT rescue themselves. If a partner is not there for immediate rescue, the skier or rider may die very quickly from suffocation – in many cases, he or she can die as quickly as someone can drown in water.

We urge all off-trail skiers and riders to review these deep snow safety practices before heading off the groomed runs.

Deep Snow & Tree Well Safety

Know the hazards, use the buddy system, and live to ride another day!

The Brundage Ski Patrol dug out one side of a tree well to show a cross section of the deep depressions that can form under evergreen branches. Imagine how easy it would be to fall in and get trapped if this tree well had been in its natural state.

 

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