Watch a snowboarder survive an avalanche with an inflatable backpack

Originally published at:

omg, so scary. we had a skier killed here a month or so ago. he jumped a rope line and went down a closed run. they found him a few days later under 10’ of snow. it was on a very challenging run, and not far from the lodge at all – in fact, the main lift went right over the area where it happened. and he wasn’t a young guy, either – he was in his 60s, and he should have known better. it’s so easy to think you’re going to be ok, but the reality is that nature doesn’t have to care. this is the first i’ve heard of these airbags. i hope they help keep avalanche deaths down.


The airbags and breathing rigs have been around for a bit- and from what I’ve read, they really, really make a difference. That and a transponder.
That video is… intense.


oh yes, the transponders – we actually had a pair of backcountry skiers (right after that avalanche killed that man) get caught in a second avalanche, and they survived and were able to walk out. the rescue teams said that while they shouldn’t have been out in those conditions, they at least were properly prepared for avalanche conditions, wearing proper gear and transponders.


Black diamond do make good stuff though don’t they: expensive but high quality. From my limited experience of their climbing gear anyway.

1 Like

Me, too. I went to find out about how they work and got this:

BCA Float packs work because of a phenomenon known as “inverse segregation.” This simply means larger “particles” (that’s you in an avalanche, with a Float pack’s 150L airbag inflated) tend to rise to the surface when a bunch of particles of different sizes are shaken together (that’s an avalanche with a ton of snow granulated and flowing down the mountain).

…or why Brazil nuts always end up at the top of your jar of mixed nuts.

And here’s a video demonstrating an avalanche pack:


an avalanche with an inflatable backpack
That’s a well-prepared avalanche.


fascinating! now i can definitely say i learned something new today. :grin:


the vendor argues that a battery powered bag is better than a compressed air cartridge, because there’s very little penalty for being too cautious. Good advice?

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.