Saturday, December 18, 2010

Balloon Igloos

So its the first day of the Christmas Holidays and we decided to build a quick Igloo. This is what we did.

Bought giant Balloon which when fully inflated was 180cm in diameter. We used a compressor to blow the thing up.

We then took it out into the garden where we covered it in snow [ using a snow blower]

Then left the snow to set for about an hour

Then deflated the balloon leaving a cave that resembled the inside of a giant ping pong ball.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

La Chamoniarde, Société de Prévention et de Secours en Montagne

To day I joined the Mountain Rescue for a big avalanche practice search at the top of Brevent.

Each year just before the season there is always a huge avalanche practice organised by La Chamoniarde a voluntary operation made up Ski Instructors, Mountain Guides, Pisteurs, Doctors,Firemen and the Police.
The purpose is to have enough trained people to deal with a catastrophic avalanche that might take out houses or major communication links.

In the morning there was a demostration of the equipment such as the use of avalanche transceivers, how to deal with helicopters, how to help the dogs.

In the afternoon a simulated avalanche was created at the top of Le Brevent. We were divided into teams of 15 people . There were 20 teams. We all lined up shoulder to shoulder and practiced a Probe search until we eventually found the 4 "victims" which were buried.

As a treat [as the ski station hasn't opened for the season] we all got to ski untracked snow from the top of Brevent to Plan Praz.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Big Kids Mountain Ski Mountain Safety

I was approached by concerned parents who have children who are very good skiers, often much better than their parents. It is not long before these children want to charge off piste. They do not understand the dangers of doing this.

I was asked by parents if I would prepare a talk pointing out the risks.
So yesterday I spent the day at La Cote International School which is about 30 km out side Geneva.
My starting point was to accept that the children would want to ski off- piste and it is not my aim to stop them- but at least they should understand what they were getting into.

At the very least they will not have the excuse “Oh I didn’t know.”

Mountaineering and skiing accidents are on the increase and there is evidence that early exposure to safe practice will play a critical role in addressing this issue

I delivered a presentation to all the children in the school. I did this several times adjusting the talk for the different age groups

Piste signs and what they mean.

Avalanche warning signs . The flags and what they mean.

Difference between a Pisteur and a “lifty.” [A Pisteur is a highly trained professional. A lifty is what you become if you don’t work very hard at school.]

Reading the snow. How to tell what is safe and what is not. By the end of the talks most children understood how to identify avalanche prone slopes and where avalanches are most likely to start.

Essential equipment for skiing off piste. I brought a lot of my equipment to show the children.

What to do if it all goes wrong. How to conduct an avalanche search. In the afternoon we went out side and practiced hiding avalanche transceivers in the snow.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Pre Season Skiing is looking very good

Like in the UK it has been snowing like mad here in Chamonix and all the lifts are going to be open from this weekend. The only problem is that I am due to deliver a series of lectures to kids about off piste skiing safety down in Geneva. The kids can't get to school because of the snow!