Avalanche safety

This article provides information about avalanches and safety advice for avoiding them.  Avalanches can and do occur in Australia. Always remember: the avalanche doesn't know that you are an expert.  
 
Ski patrollers in resorts assess avalanche risks and conduct control measures when necessary, but groups travelling in the backcountry are responsible for their own safety. 
 
Avalanche debris Champex valley Switzerland
Avalanche debris visible in Champex valley, Switzerland on the Haute Route. Note ski tracks to the right.
 

Avalanche Types

There are four main types of avalanches: slab, cornice, wet snow and powder.
 

BSAR call-out for missing snowboarders on Mount Bogong

Mt Bogong callout 13-15 July 2014

Two snowboarders failed to return home as expected from a trip to Mt Bogong on Saturday evening 12 July.  Police initiated a full BSAR callout of both north east and Melbourne members early Sunday morning.  Three BSAR members from the Birkenbeiner Nordic Ski Club at Mt Beauty quickly responded, climbing to Michell Hut where the men’s tent was situated, and commenced searching the debris below a recent avalanche site that had been located off the east side of the upper Eskdale Spur.

On Sunday evening a large team of Police Search and Rescue and additional BSAR members from Melbourne climbed to Michell hut and prepared for a large scale search effort.  Searching the avalanche debris located one victim on Monday morning.  As the fate the two men was now tragically clear, on Monday evening all BSAR searchers were flown off Mt Bogong by Police helicopter.

Police Search and Rescue and BSAR searchers preparing at Michell Hut

Search and rescue on Mount Bogong for two missing snowshoers

 

Mt Bogong callout 5-6 July 2014

Police received a triple 0 call from two men lost on Mt Bogong on Saturday 5 July, who had become separated from the rest of their party in bad weather.  Police requested BSAR assistance.  Five BSAR members from the Birkenbeiner Nordic Ski Club at Mt Beauty responded at short notice to the BSAR local call-out and ascended the Staircase Spur during the night.  In the early hours of Sunday morning they located the two men in their collapsed tent near the top of the Staircase Spur.  Both were thoroughly soaked, severely hypothermic and dehydrated.  The men were moved into tents and carefully warmed over the next few hours.

Once sufficiently re-warmed, each man was moved down to Bivouac Hut for further treatment, now assisted by members of Police Search and Rescue Squad.  At Bivouac Hut additional BSAR members from Melbourne and Mt Beauty, as well as local SES personnel, assisted in getting the men off Mt Bogong.  This was successfully achieved by the end of the day.  Both men made a full recovery.

Campsite, Staircase spur.  Photo: Bob Flower
 

TRAINING ADVICE: 2014 BSAR Steep Snow and Ice at The Razorback

FOR: BSAR members with Steep Snow and Ice rating, and those seeking it.

 
There are two related Steep Snow and Ice training events this year:

31 Aug 2014. Williamstown, Dryland training day covering stretcher, z- pulley, avalanche transceiver theory and some exercises, which is a pre-requisite for the on snow component.

5,6,7 Sep 2014. The Razorback, Steep snow and ice rescue skills in alpine environment, snow cave making, route selection, steep terrain travel and basic avalanche assessment.

Who should attend?

  • BSAR members with SSI rating "T" (technical) or "C" (competent).
  • Full BSAR members interested in acquiring SSI rating.

BSAR Field Organiser Peter Briggs on a different type of search - for submarine AE2

Peter Briggs

BSAR Field Organiser and Retired Rear Admiral Peter Briggs is leading a team of Australians on a different type of search - a mission to preserve the WW1 submarine AE2 as part of the Silent Anzac Project.

Peter previously led a dive survey in October 2007 that found the 99-year-old submarine to be in "remarkably good shape".
 
HMAS Ae2 submarine
HMAS AE2 in Sydney, circa 1914. Source: Australian War Memorial
 
The well-preserved submarine was sunk by Ottoman gunfire off the Turkish coast in 1915.  HMAS AE2 was an E-class submarine of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and was the first Allied submarine to penetrate the Dardanelles strait in a bid to secure the Gallipoli Peninsula.
 

Behind the Log BSAR newletter May 2014 edition out now

The May 2014 edition of Behind The Log, Bush Search and Rescue's regular newsletter, is now published and can be downloaded from [here] (pdf). 

Articles include:
  • South Viking Call-out, 23 March 2014
  • Welcome to New BSAR Members
  • BSAR Training Weekend, 3-4 May 2014
  • BSAR 2013-14 Annual Report
  • Preliminary Training Advice Steep Snow and Ice

Training Weekend in Korweinguboora, May 2014

Forty-six BSAR members and potential members took part in BSAR’s annual training weekend held last May at Korweinguboora on the edge of the Wombat Forest.  12 clubs were represented plus a good number of BWV individual members.
 
The footy pavilion in the recreation reserve at Korweinguboora on the Ballan Daylesford road was an excellent base for the weekend, especially given the cool and showery conditions; “typical search weather”.  Members had arrived at Green St Northcote early Saturday morning as they would for a search callout, and on arrival at the “command post” at Korweinguboora immediately prepared for a search in the nearby Wombat State Forest. Given the numbers, three search exercises were conducted simultaneously, each incorporating feature search, line search, patient management and a stretcher carry evacuation.
 
 

BSAR call-out to South Viking missing hiker

Saturday 22/03/2014 4pm. Bush Seach and Rescue was called out for a 4am departure from Melbourne to assist Police Search and Rescue searching for a missing person in the South Viking region of the Alpine National Park.  

Sunday 23/3 1.01pm. Missing woman located by the police helicopter at 10:00am on Sunday and winched to safety.

BSAR team at search conclusion
BSAR team at search conclusion

External links

David Reid awarded OAM for services to bushwalking

 

David Reid OAM

David Reid, Past President and Board Member of Bushwalking Victoria, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2014 Australia Day honours for services to bushwalking.

This award is recognition of many years of dedicated advocacy and service on behalf of all bushwalkers.

David was also President of Bushwalking Australia from 2010 to 2012 and supported the formation of the organisation in 2006.   David was a strong supporter of Bush Search and Rescue Victoria.
 

 

ICE your mobile phone for emergencies

Here is a simple informal protocol you can use with your mobile phone or tablet to assist communication with your next of kin during an emergency situation.

If you are in an emergency situation and not conscious, first responders may access your mobile phone.

If your phone is unlocked, they may check its address list for an "ICE" contact to get information about you and who they should contact.

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