This claustrophobia inducing video shows the dangers of tree wells when you venture under the rope or into the back country.
If you’re not familiar with them, tree wells occur when snow falls around a tree. The lower branches of the tree prevent the snow from compressing firmly.
The result is a deceptive, deep well around the trunk that unwitting skiers and snowboarders can fall into, and become trapped.
As the trapped person tries to free themselves, more snow falls around them, both restricting their movement, and preventing them from breathing properly. In short, it’s like being buried alive.
Sadly, 20 per cent of all ski and snowboard related deaths occur because of tree wells.
Ride with others
Chances of survival without help from at least one other person are chilling low. A staggering 90 per cent of tree well victims fail to free themselves unaided, which highlights the importance of riding with other people when venturing off piste.
However, if you do find yourself stuck in a tree well, all alone, there are a few things you can do to help yourself.
If the worst happens, although difficult and completely counter-intuitive, it’s imperative that you do not panic. Erratic movement will only disrupt the snow further, not only causing more powder to fall in around you, but possibly digging you in further, deeper into trouble. Put your energy into staying calm and thinking clearly.