avalanche transceiver - a constant companion in backcountry | © Daniel Roos Photographie
  • Outdoors

Safety days at the Spielberghaus

First line or safety first?

That’s the most important question during powder snow days… and not only on blue bird days (blue bird day = the first sunny day after fresh snowfall). And after last year‘s safety days at the Spielberghaus everyone’s got the answer to this question stored in their ABS backpacks ­– as the event was all about finding the right balance between safety and fun.

At 15:00, all 19 participants, including the mc2alpin’s professional mountain guide team, met at the parking space for a snowcat shuttle service across the Spielberg way directly to the Spielberghaus also known as the “free ride lodge”. After a bit of mulled wine around the open fire and a small meet and greet, where everyone got to state their expectations regarding the upcoming camp, it was time to go to the seminar room. As per the motto “business before pleasure”, the event began with the dissemination of some fundamentals, and that, of course, requires a little bit of theory. 

 

Avalanche awareness and product testing

The experienced Tyrolean mountain guides Walter, Stefan and Peter introduced the basics of avalanche and snow awareness: the meaning of the various avalanche warning levels, the appropriate behaviour on the ground, proper tour planning, use of the emergency equipment, the right type of rescue chain, emergency first aid as well as many other topics were discussed with the participants over the two days. Highly interesting topics with plenty of room for further talks. A great addition was undoubtedly the fact that participants got to try out some of the test material provided by Pieps, Black Diamond and Arcteryx.

Search, probe, dig

In order to translate theory into practice at the earliest occasion, the next day already saw the participants move onto the field behind the Spielberghaus. With sunshine and a picturesque blue sky, we all realised how easy it is to forget the alpine dangers when one is not properly prepared. But practice makes perfect, and so we used touring skis and snow shoes to start moving toward the Kelberkopf in small groups. Here, one could catch the first glimpse of people’s slope preferences. Questions like: “What is a 40-degree slope?” and “Which uphill route shall I take?” were asked for the first time out in the wild and were then professionally answered. On our way to the summit, we found a neat little spot, perfect for the first emergency exercise session. The mountain guides appreciated the fact that everyone was able to handle their tools (LVS device, shovel, ABS backpack and probe). Being able to set the functions “send” and “receive” is an obvious necessity here. After coarse searching, fine searching, marking and what feels like endless shovelling, we finally got to enjoy the previously explored powder slopes back to the hut.

 

After returning to the Spielbergahus, we had another theory session, which went very smoothly this time around. The participants were even rewarded for their knowledge with a few surprises: among other things, participants could win an LVS device, a backpack or super functional gloves. We would like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to the supporting companies Pieps, Black Diamond and Arcteryx. The participants were very well taken care of in terms of culinary delights at the Spielberghaus and the evening didn’t end without a few rounds of Schnapps.

Emergency exercise at the Amsel

After a big breakfast, we launched into the next day with plenty of motivation and ready for some more practical exercises. The Bernkogel lift brought us directly, ­and thanks to the support of the Saalbach mountain lifts completely free of charge to the summit, as we began our journey toward “Amsel”. After a short but sensational descent, our mountain guide Stefan presented an informative snow profile, which he explained to us step by step. It is really amazing how the different layers of snow are put together. The Tyrolean mountain enthusiast vividly explained that one must observe the snow profile and remember it throughout the winter.

 

After a short and snappy climb, we were awaited by a staged emergency scenario, which we had been training for during the last couple of days. The brief alarm info said, “Two people buried!” Within a fraction of a second, it was time to put theory into practice. But we noticed ourselves that it didn’t go exactly as planned. Despite our mountain guide’s instructions, we only realised later that we should have communicated much more. But even here, one thing remains true: “No one is born a master!” Nevertheless, the Amsel descent and a warm soup at the Spielberghaus were still waiting for us as a reward. Afterward, the participants embarked on their journeys home happy as well as a little more level-headed.

No to “no friends on powder days”

My personal bottom line: we are not immortal – even with our constant companions on the ground, the ABS backpack and LVS. But with more knowledge, experience and a lot of practice, we can get the maximum amount of fun out of any powder day – despite the need for safety. And finally, a clear “no” to the common expression: “No friends on powder days!” On the contrary! When out and about, you should have friends with you who are fully aware of the various alpine dangers – and who also understand that you will have to occasionally miss out on a good run if the circumstances don’t allow it. Because in 90% of cases, it is our own fault when we end up in an avalanche situation – this, however, can usually be avoided.

 

Freeride Camps 2019

SAAC - Snow- and alpine awareness camp 26.-27.1.2019

The SAAC basic camp is a two-day-course of basic knowledge about avalanches and the risks off-piste. In these two days the SAAC guides - all of them certified - inform about the dangers and how to behave in the backcountry.

 

Snowhow Avalanche Workshops 22.-23.2.2019

On February 22nd/23rd 2019 the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn is offering a SNOWHOW Avalanche Workshop. The participation is for free, lift tickets need to be bought individually.
On request, we serve English speaking groups. Sign in at: www.snowhow.info

 

Risk n Fun Camp - Trainingssession I 27.2.-3.3.2019

4 days backcountry with the risk´n´fun-Team ad other freeriders. Who ca join: everyone who is save in freeride terrain Info and registration: www.risk-fun.com

 

Risk n Fun Camp - Trainingssession II 11.-15.3.2019

4 days backcountry with the risk´n´fun-Team ad other freeriders. Who ca join: everyone who is save in freeride terrain Info and registration: www.risk-fun.com

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