Avalanche cords

12:56 p.m. on February 14, 2003 (EST)
(Guest)

a.k.a. Karl

Years ago when I was doing more backcountry skiing in areas with some aval danger I used an avalanche cord (50 feet of red 1/2" nylon cord) tied to my belt dragging behind me when crossing areas of risk. I never read anything about their value then and haven't seen nor heard about their use since. Does anyone know if they offer much value? I can't imagine that the boarders and others are all out their buying $300 transceivers. Short of a transceiver or an avalung, are cords worth anything?

1:34 p.m. on February 14, 2003 (EST)
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408 forum posts
Popular in the 70's?

Quote:

Years ago when I was doing more backcountry skiing in areas with some aval danger I used an avalanche cord (50 feet of red 1/2" nylon cord) tied to my belt dragging behind me when crossing areas of risk. I never read anything about their value then and haven't seen nor heard about their use since. Does anyone know if they offer much value? I can't imagine that the boarders and others are all out their buying $300 transceivers. Short of a transceiver or an avalung, are cords worth anything?

Avy cords seem to have fallen out of favor.

I'm not sure many folk are using them. I recall trying them once or twice, but, pain in the butt. Who really wants to ski with a long leash attached to them? Not very practical, IMHO.

Beeper technology has improved a tad in the last 20 years. I think most savy backcountry travelers are using beepers, especially those in it for the long haul.

Been several folks dug out here (Wasatch) this season, quickly and successfully (ie, they didn't perish) with beepers. No one I know uses an avalung.

Brian in SLC

2:45 p.m. on February 14, 2003 (EST)
(Guest)

a.k.a. Karl
Re: Popular in the 70's?

Thanks for the input.
I'm somewhat risk averse to things I don't have sufficient control of, so though I am fine on steep rock and ice because I can protect it till I feel good (generally), I'm a little squeemish anywhere over low to moderate aval conditions. I'm somewhat afraid that if I purchase a transeiver I'll rationalize that I can venture into conditions that are more risky. Then I guess with a transceiver I can take on riskier conditions without really increasing my net risk of death, compared to staying in safer terrain without one. What to do....

3:27 p.m. on February 14, 2003 (EST)
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Yeah, OGBO used avy cords a few times. The theory was not to drag them, but have them wadded into a pocket or somewhere, then when you were about to be caught in an avalanche, you tossed the thing out, hoping enough of it showed on the surface that your rescuers could dig in, following it to you. Of course, that might mean a whole bunch of digging. Thankfully, I have never been caught in an avalanche nor with anyone who was, so I never tested that theory.

Avy beacons are far far better, assuming you and your companions practice. I use an Ortovox F1, an analog beacon. This last Beacon Olympics, Barbara, who had never done a search for speed, borrowed a Tracker and got fastest time of the day in the qualifiers. The general consensus is that the Tracker is the easiest for people to learn in short order. I tried out an Ortovox X1, which is a combined analog (for initial range) and digital (for final search). It looks promising, but seems to have a very steep learning curve.

I have competed in several search competitions. While I am nowhere near as fast as the pros, I can usually get to within a couple feet of the surface position within 30 sec of the initial pickup of the signal. Digging the "victim" out is also a lot slower for me than the pros, with the depth making a lot of difference. Last year at the Bear Valley competition, a pro guide from Austria took 35 seconds from start to having the beacon in hand from a 2 foot burial (I took 57 sec for the same scenario). Multiple beacons take longer, of course, especially if the victims are close together.

Point is, I suspect that an avy cord would take several minutes to even identify, assuming your buds knew that's what to look for, and then a bunch more time to dig up the length all the way to you. Considering how fast the survival percentage drops, I believe the avy cord is more a body recovery device than a rescue device. After 10 minutes, survival rates are already below 50 percent.

But, with the beacons, even the Tracker and other similar digital beacons, you have to practice, practice, practice.

$300? What is your life worth? True, boarders don't use them. But they are mostly young males, which means they are immortal, invulnerable, and omniscient, unlike us Old GreyBeards who are very aware of our mortality and vulnerability, and learned long ago that we are far from knowing it all. It is not cost that keeps them from using the beacons.

10:35 p.m. on February 16, 2003 (EST)
(Guest)

a.k.a. Trad _Guy

Quote:

Years ago when I was doing more backcountry skiing in areas with some aval danger I used an avalanche cord (50 feet of red 1/2" nylon cord) tied to my belt dragging behind me when crossing areas of risk. I never read anything about their value then and haven't seen nor heard about their use since. Does anyone know if they offer much value? I can't imagine that the boarders and others are all out their buying $300 transceivers. Short of a transceiver or an avalung, are cords worth anything?

Karl-
An avalanche cords works! You pull it behind, deployed only when you need it. You can't pull it out of your pocket in a wad as you start to avalanche away. It will stay in a wad of cord and markers. (The markers show the direction to the entombed person). The red cord is designed to "float" to the top.

That being said, unless you are willing to risk death for a ride (as many are today) avalnche avoidance is the way to go. The red cord and today's expensive gadgets may provide just the excuse a group needs to just do it.

This psychology is recognised in several articles. Read about Avalanche Avoidance and the added risk of using expensive gadgets and gear (sorry, sales folk) at http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/Faq_Avalanches.htm
--Trad_Guy

10:36 p.m. on February 16, 2003 (EST)
(Guest)

Quote:

Quote:

Years ago when I was doing more backcountry skiing in areas with some aval danger I used an avalanche cord (50 feet of red 1/2" nylon cord) tied to my belt dragging behind me when crossing areas of risk. I never read anything about their value then and haven't seen nor heard about their use since. Does anyone know if they offer much value? I can't imagine that the boarders and others are all out their buying $300 transceivers. Short of a transceiver or an avalung, are cords worth anything?

Karl-
An avalanche cords works! You pull it behind, deployed only when you need it. You can't pull it out of your pocket in a wad as you start to avalanche away. It will stay in a wad of cord and markers. (The markers show the direction to the entombed person). The red cord is designed to "float" to the top.

That being said, unless you are willing to risk death for a ride (as many are today) avalnche avoidance is the way to go. The red cord and today's expensive gadgets may provide just the excuse a group needs to just do it.

This psychology is recognised in several articles. Read about Avalanche Avoidance and the added risk of using expensive gadgets and gear (sorry, sales folk) at http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/Faq_Avalanches.htm
--Trad_Guy

10:40 p.m. on February 16, 2003 (EST)
(Guest)

a.k.a. Trad _Guy

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Years ago when I was doing more backcountry skiing in areas with some aval danger I used an avalanche cord (50 feet of red 1/2" nylon cord) tied to my belt dragging behind me when crossing areas of risk. I never read anything about their value then and haven't seen nor heard about their use since. Does anyone know if they offer much value? I can't imagine that the boarders and others are all out their buying $300 transceivers. Short of a transceiver or an avalung, are cords worth anything?

Karl-
I forgot to mention that the avalanche cord is not 1/2 inch line, it is braided light nylon utility line (like parachute cord).
--Trad_Guy

 

Quote:

Quote:

Karl-
An avalanche cords works! You pull it behind, deployed only when you need it. You can't pull it out of your pocket in a wad as you start to avalanche away. It will stay in a wad of cord and markers. (The markers show the direction to the entombed person). The red cord is designed to "float" to the top.

That being said, unless you are willing to risk death for a ride (as many are today) avalnche avoidance is the way to go. The red cord and today's expensive gadgets may provide just the excuse a group needs to just do it.

This psychology is recognised in several articles. Read about Avalanche Avoidance and the added risk of using expensive gadgets and gear (sorry, sales folk) at http://www.traditionalmountaineering.org/Faq_Avalanches.htm
--Trad_Guy

September 23, 2014
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