Forums Avy Discussion Forum Avy 2 versus Avy Pack?
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  • #580214
    AK
    23 Posts

    Hello All,

    Wanted to get some feedback on a question I have been thinking about. Which is more important: completing an Avy 2 class or purchasing an Avy bag? With both being about the same, which is money better spent? I am leaning towards the avy 2 class having a higher ROI in terms of not getting into an avalanche in the first place.

    Thought? If you had to choose one which would you pick?

    Thanks!

    #677939
    ieism
    298 Posts

    (hit wrong button, see below) :scratch:

    http://flatlandsplitfest.com/

    #677942
    ieism
    298 Posts

    @ieism wrote:

    AVI 2 no doubt. Here’s why:

    – An airbag doesn’t save as many lifes as the commercial wants you to believe. They say 97% makes it out with an airbag that they actually pulled. Thing is, it’s not easy to pull the thing while your tumbling down is it, so they leave that out of the statistics because it’s bad for business.
    – 97% survival rate sounds good, but about 80% of people survive regardless of wearing an airbag. Remember, most slides are quite small here in Europe (where the 97% statistic was from) So it’s not a near 100% improvement, you almost double the odds of getting out alive if you are buried though.
    – You will still get buried with an airbag in a larger slide, and won’t be able to free yourself. An airbag doesn’t prevent this, they’ve tested it. So if you don’t have anybody to dig you out you could still die.
    – 5 to 10% of victims die from trauma, mostly to the head, while in an avalanche. An airbag won’t change that, a helmet might. If you ride very exposed lines this number goes up dramatically and the odds of dying from trauma are nearly 50%. So an airbag only makes sense in low consequence terrain.

    If you follow an avy2 course, you can prevent all of the above problems by not being in the wrong place at the wrong time. No slide, no deaths. The method they teach here in Europe filters out 99% of the risk, so the statistics are much much better than an avi pack considering the above facts.

    (For the record, I’ve been using an airbag for years myself and so have most of my friends. I would not like to tour with someone who has an airbag but a very basic understanding of avalanches and resque though. I don’t know how good an Avi1 or 2 class is, I only know one person who did one in the US. The course is a little different in Europe from what I understood.)

    http://flatlandsplitfest.com/

    #677940
    BobGnarly
    220 Posts

    I think it depends, I guess you are talking about a one season delay?
    I think if you have done your ast1 you have the knowledge to keep yourself out of trouble, when in doubt stay cautious.
    If you do any solo riding the airbag is a big one, as is a quick release binding system.

    I think talking about percentages of deaths with airbags is a waste of time, yeah you can still die but they help no doubt. I dont think amy of us need convincing on that one.
    On the other side of the coin even avalanche professionals die in avalanches so no amount of knowledge makes you immune.

    The answer I guess is both, and stay conservative

    #677941
    ieism
    298 Posts

    Solo? Yeah, I woudn’t really recommend that without an avy2 class either. It might make you feel better to wear the bag, but it probably won’t save your live. It mostly depends on where and what your ride though.

    Here’s where an airbag will almost certainly help.

    If you’ve done an avy2 class, you can probably spot in about a second what went wrong here. Can you?

    Here’s where it will make no diference at all.
    http://hqworld.net/gallery/data/media/84/avalanche__rock_mountain_face__alaska.jpg

    An airbag wont work if you hit a tree, get dumped down a rockface, buried in a terrain trap, caught by a wet slab or secondary avalanche. Besides that, even if you’re lucky you still may get burried a little. They tested that at SLF lot. Without the bag about 60cm, with bag 20cm. That’s cool, because your friends can dig you out real fast, and that saves lives. But it sucks if you’re solo. You almost survived.

    I’m not sure what they teach in avy2 in the US or Canada. But you almost certainly will make better decisions to prevent all of this from happening.

    An airbag is just like a lifebuoy. If you can’t swim, you probably shouldn’t cross the atlantic by yourself.

    http://flatlandsplitfest.com/

    #677943
    BobGnarly
    220 Posts

    Well thats wind loaded to the max, convex roll and there are other avalanches visible so yeah lots of red flags. My general knowledge and ast1 training tells me that, Im not sure what else I would know about that after doing ast2?

    #677944
    Snurfer
    1438 Posts

    Apologies for thread drift, but your post hit a nerve. :banghead:

    Am I the only one on this forum that is just sick of hearing of people dying senselessly and the sidestepping of the issue that always follows – Lets face it, they made poor choices and accepted the risk.

    So, if you didn’t acquire the knowledge to make safe decisions in a level 1 course, level 2 is pointless. At least the airbag gives you a window of hope when you accept a certain level of risk, or make a poor decision.

    :twocents:

    @topodojo IG
    Shark Snowsurf Chuna
    Voile V-Tail 170 BC
    Voile One Ninety Five
    Spark R&D Arc

    #677945
    nordicbordn
    225 Posts

    Personally, I think theyre both important, but not essential. Sure, maybe they help on a day-to-day basis, but experience and sound decision-making will keep you out of a slide 95% of the time. And the other 5%.. when the rubber meets the road, you gotta rely on instinct. There’s no time to think or be afraid. just my 2 cents.

    #677946
    HikeforTurns
    1113 Posts

    @ieism wrote:

    Solo? Yeah, I woudn’t really recommend that without an avy2 class either. It might make you feel better to wear the bag, but it probably won’t save your live. It mostly depends on where and what your ride though.

    Here’s where an airbag will almost certainly help.

    If you’ve done an avy2 class, you can probably spot in about a second what went wrong here. Can you?

    Here’s where it will make no diference at all.
    http://hqworld.net/gallery/data/media/84/avalanche__rock_mountain_face__alaska.jpg

    An airbag wont work if you hit a tree, get dumped down a rockface, buried in a terrain trap, caught by a wet slab or secondary avalanche. Besides that, even if you’re lucky you still may get burried a little. They tested that at SLF lot. Without the bag about 60cm, with bag 20cm. That’s cool, because your friends can dig you out real fast, and that saves lives. But it sucks if you’re solo. You almost survived.

    I’m not sure what they teach in avy2 in the US or Canada. But you almost certainly will make better decisions to prevent all of this from happening.

    An airbag is just like a lifebuoy. If you can’t swim, you probably shouldn’t cross the atlantic by yourself.

    A lot of generalizations being made here. Everybody loves to attack airbags, but fact is they do increase your odds of survival. Even if its only a 10 percent increase, its worth it to me. The key is not to allow it to increase your level of acceptable risk. This is very hard to do.

    Hard to tell too much from that picture based on the size of the track though I don’t think an airbag would do anything. Without knowing the details behind the photo, it looks like maybe a 6 inch slab. If the snowpack was bomber prior to the recent snow that slope could be perfectly fine to ski, just watch your sluff and pick clean lines.

    A level 2 class can also give you more confidence and get you in trouble. Assuming you are eventually going to get both, I would get the airbag first, then keep reading and observing and make good route finding decisions. If you feel you have plenty of experience with this, then take a level 2.

    #677947
    AK
    23 Posts

    Thanks for the thoughts guys. The main thing that precipitated this is I have seen many people that: (1) had an avy pack and (2) were not making (in my view) safe decisions. This is an over-generalization, but I have seen so many people out getting turns with all the safety gear( e.g, avy pack, Avalung, helmet, etc) and making stupid decisions.

    Clearly the best option is to have both an avy pack and acquire as much knowledge as possible. But it really seems to me that knowledge should be the most important focus. Put simply: Be proactive instead of reactive.

    As an interesting note, I always pay attention to what guides are wearing. And often, I see they are not using avy bags. I don’t know what to conclude from this but it is an interesting observation.

    #677948
    summersgone
    813 Posts

    Some food for thought. I just got done reading this months The Avalanche Review, and they had an article about airbags. It tried to find the least biased results possible. In summary, what they found was:

    Without an airbag pack, you have a 22% mortality rate in a d2 or larger avalanche. With an airbag, you have a 13% rate (11% with successful deploy), taking into account non-releases. But if you start thinking that with an airbag you can take larger risks, you nullify these results.

    Interesting to think about and I agree. I would say that I don’t take more risks with an airbag than without, but in the back of my head, I know I have it on to help in some situations with cleaner run outs in some snow conditions. I know with a deep slab, I’m probably fucked either way, and with terrain traps and trees, same idea. But I’d like to think in clean run outs and smaller paths, it gives me a better shot, if I don’t break legs and bleed out. Either way, I don’t want to get caught in one, and a level 2 knowledge to stay away could be better.

    I am personally taking an avalanche 2 course this year, and excited about it. I got the airbag first, and won’t be able to say what’s better until I get through the class.

    #677949
    shredgnar
    643 Posts

    Interesting question. I took my Avy 2 a while back and I have an airbag pack. While the Avy2 was very informative, and good to take to brush up on my skills, I didn’t pick up much more than my Avy1 class and reading a few books (I also had about 15 years BC experience before I took the class). It was a bunch of snow science, pit digging, which is no doubt valuable info, but not as relevant as one might think, especially if you don’t plan on taking a level 3 any time soon or doing any guiding. I do like where the curriculum is heading with the split rec/pro tracks. I do think that there needs to be a bigger emphasis on terrain management and travel plans.

    As far as the airbag, I rarely take the handle out of the pocket. I often question why the fuck I’m hauling the extra weight all over the place. It is nice when you are in questionable terrain for sure, but the older and more experienced I get, the less I find myself putting myself into those situations. I am getting a snowmobile soon and I can see using it then more often because I’ll be changing my mode of travel and thus visiting different, unfamiliar terrain, with the ability to get into trouble a lot faster.

    So all of the rambling aside, I’d probably still go with education. Digging a pit won’t keep you out of a slide, but the more time (and money)you have invested in your education, hopefully the more you will think about what you are doing before you do it. Airbags are not a fail safe by any means.

    #677950
    HansGLudwig
    601 Posts

    Re OP: Tremper says Airbag > Beacon + Probe + Shovel + Buddies who know how to use theirs. (But he’s not comparing that to Avy2) I think he takes the Avy-ed as a given in the equation.

    The class is only as good as you are willing to read, do the homework, and apply what you’ve learned. The bag is only as good as your ability deploy it and not ride above rocks, cliffs, or trees.
    ***********************
    I have some biases:
    * Here in SoCal, there is no bulletin so Avy safety and snow sense is 100% up to me.
    * I am 200 miles away from any alpine terrain (60 mi away from steep, deep, treed terrain; but not alpine)
    * My Avy2 was put on by the NSP and geared toward patrollers and rescuers
    * All the snow dried up halfway through my Avy2 course, so I haven’t actually finished it. (Frackin’ drought!)

    There is not much wholly new in Avy2 that wasn’t in Avy1; there’s more reading, more math, and more applied learning.
    Whereas Avy1 is geared to ‘scare you straight’, equip you to read & understand bulletins, and participate in safety meetings (i.e. make safety calls the day-of for a particular slope); Avy 2 is geared to humble you into dutiful study and equip you to lead* trips into the backcounty (i.e. understand how snow metamorphoses, begin to forecast hazard for a day or two, and practice safe route finding).

    Also Avy2 enables you to start a career as an Avy-pro (more like an Avy-part-timer): patroller, forecaster, rescuer.

    * I fully recognize the group model of leader & followers is not ideal. However if you’ve had Avy2, chances are, you are the most Avy-educated individual in any group you’ll be in. As such, group members will look to you as the ‘voice of reason.’ (That’s really what scares you straight).

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    #777492
    Richard Bothwell
    16 Posts

    Man, there’s a lot going on in this thread. Here’s my 2¢:

    As background, I guide splitboard trips and teach AIARE 1 & 2 avalanche classes, and do a fair amount of personal recreational backcountry riding. I know this forum is going to be read by a wide range of people…from the first time splitboarder, to the retired pro patroller who gets after it 100 days/year. It’s tough to create an answer that applies equally well to everyone.

    I see a lot of people asking similar questions, and people who want to jump from an AIARE 1 to an AIARE 2 as quickly as possible, as if the certificates equate to knowledge. I also see lots of people who own spiffy new airbags without the first idea about avalanche terrain, and often without knowing about the airbag thong. Knowledge and sound decision making is more important than certs and gear.

    I would rather partner with someone who is making good decisions…good AIARE 1 terrain decisions.. than ride with someone who collects certs and just took an AIARE 2. Similarly, I’d rather ride with someone making good AIARE 1 terrain decisions than with someone who has an airbag.

    If someone asked me whether they should get an AIARE 2 or an airbag, I’d ask a few more questions….do you ride where there is a good avy advisory? Are you riding somewhere that has no advisory? Do you practice good AIARE 1 decision making? Make good tour plans? Create plans that have options, and have observation points and decision making points? Use the Communication Checklist? Use the DMF? Pick your partners based on your objectives and your objectives based on your partners? Can you use a map and compass? If you ride where there is not a good, daily advisory, and you answered yes to the other questions, than an AIARE 2 class is a great idea. If you answered no….go back and refresh an AIARE 1. If you can’t read a map, and pick out all the NE slopes >35º, there’s no reason to take an AIARE 2 course.

    If your idea of being “avy trained” is ” I know how to play hide and seek with a beacon” you should think about taking a good AIARE 1 course, so you can develop a good plan for traveling in avalanche terrain.

    Assuming someone has a really solid handle on good AIARE 1 concepts…and uses those concepts as a matter of routine, I’d suggest an AIARE 2 if you either A) have no local advisory to rely on, B) Want to continue on a pro track, to become a guide, forecaster, etc. or C) Like to geek out on the science. Snow science is cool.

    I’d suggest buying an airbag if you A) Have a bunch of cash laying around…they are awesome, and everyone would/should own one if you can afford it, B) Ride in avy terrain on Considerable or higher danger days C) Ride in an area without a good advisory and/or D)Ride in a lot of complex terrain, where it’s challenging to make good terrain decisions.

    I’d be careful doing what you see guides do, or buying what you see guides using. The past two weekends I’ve been going out with my BCA Float Pack but without the cylinder, as the danger was low, and the avy problem was one that I find easy to manage. I’d hate for someone to think they should buy a Float pack based on me wearing one. Similarly, I have a favorite shovel for pit work, due to its super flat back, and recessed joint with the shaft. I have another shovel for every day use, and a third shovel I use with my rescue sled. I’d hate for anyone to make a gear decision based on what they saw me using, unless they asked me why on that day I was using that particular shovel..or pack..or saw…or probe..or stove…or tent….or tarp.

    AIARE 1, 2, 3, airbags, and Avalungs don’t really matter if we aren’t making good decisions based on what we know. Let’s make good decisions and good turns this season!

    Richard Bothwell
    Program Director, Guide
    AMGA SPI, WFR
    AIARE Level 1 and 2 Avalanche Educator
    & CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
    http://www.OutdoorAdventureClub.com
    Outdoor Adventure Club
    “Go ahead, check us out…you’re on the clock!”

    #781392
    summersgone
    813 Posts

    Wanted to bring this thread back up. I took my level 2 class this weekend with Silverton Avalanche School, and I can, without a doubt say that I would much rather have a level 2 in my pocket than an airbag (I have that as well). The class was extremely valuable, and highly recommended.

    There is a slightly bias as well, because in Colorado, an airbag isn’t going to be as useful as in say Alaska. Lots of trees, and not a ton of high alpine riding throughout most of the year.

    #781403
    96avs01
    874 Posts

    @summersgone Thanks for that post, and also reminding me of what a snowpack actually look like :bangsheadagainstwall:

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg

    Chris

    #781407
    HansGLudwig
    601 Posts

    ^^Dudethat PSTisgonnabesick! What happened?

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    #781410
    96avs01
    874 Posts

    @hansgludwig Have a couple days on that rig, really digging it. @keffler is the man, Phantoms FTW! Staring down another back surgery so not getting as many days out as I’d like.

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg

    Chris

    #781418
    summersgone
    813 Posts

    Hans, hopefully this works! It was a 160cm length. Failed at 50cm into the cut, at the depth of 70cm, full block propagation. Slope angle was 20, so its not readily apparent that is slid, but it certainly collapses.

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