Helmets in the BC? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 12-08-2010   #1
Coeur d'Alene, idaho
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Helmets in the BC?

Anyone BC Ski with a helmet? How are the uphills? Heavy? Hot? I have always worn a helmet in-bounds but have never done so when I am stomping around the back country. I would be interested to hear peoples experiences on this one.


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Old 12-08-2010   #2
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
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Strap it to your backpack for the way up. Strap it to your head for the way down.
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Old 12-08-2010   #3
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Boulder, Colorado
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What he said. Most of my dynafit wearing gram counter friends leave them at home. The guys with fatter skis and heavier binders tend to bring the bucket along.

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Old 12-08-2010   #4
Denver, Colorado
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I used to leave it at home, but have grown so accustomed to it I'm bringing it in the future- even on easy tours. When I'm in the trees I put my head down if I'm gonna hit some small branches and canon-ball through them. I've tried that in the bc and it kinda hurts without a bucket. I figure with that mentality I need all the protection I can get- especially in the bc.
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Old 12-08-2010   #5
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Yes, if your noggon is worth protecting inbounds then it should be out of bounds too. What over explanation were you expecting?
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Old 12-08-2010   #6
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Here's my 0.02 from years of dealing with skiing injuries. The expert skier who hits a tree/rock with his head at fast speeds is very rare. Skiing through trees is relatively slow and most skiers who are doing it recognize crashes far enough out that they are able to at least avoid taking most of the impact with their head. In 6 years of ski patrolling, I never took a wreck out of thick trees or steep moguls. Not that it doesn't happen every year, just that it's pretty rare. Hence, I never drag the bucket on hut trips or BC tours unless I was planning on launching significant drops over 10+ feet, in which case I would bring it (think East Vail).

However, where helmets come in very useful at preventing head injuries is inbounds. Collisions, terrain parks and high speed blue runs are where I've seen many many injuries that could possibly have been lessened or prevented by helmets. That's where I definitely recommend a brain bucket.

Slightly off topic, but interesting food for thought is the idea that helmets prevent fatalities. I don't believe they do. Skiing fatalities generally involve an intermediate skier at high speeds on a groomed run loosing control into a tree on the side of the run. Often impact speeds are 25+mph and the tree doesn't give an inch. The fatal injuries sustained often involve collapsed lungs, broken femurs and torn aorta/inferior vena cava causing massive hemorrhage. I've never seen isolated head trauma to be the cause of death (a notable, but exceedingly rare case is that of Natasha Richardson).

I'm not saying that people should avoid helmets because they do provide invaluable protection against head injuries, but I rather doubt that ski helmets prevent many fatalities. Stay safe out there and happy powder hunting....
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Old 12-08-2010   #7
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Detroit, Michigan
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My helmet is warm.
"With a wonder and a wild desire..." -Flogging Molly
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Old 12-09-2010   #8
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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I do not wear a helmet inbounds, or in the backcountry...usually. The one caveat to that is spring time. When you are dealing with melt/freeze snow the danger of rockfall can be extreme. Normally in the spring you start before the sun rises so that your off of dangerous terrain before it warms and wetslide danger increases. When the sun first starts to hit snow that has only frozen lightly overnight, obstacles such as rocks that has been incased in the frozen snow can break lose and come tumbling at you (even if there is no-one above).

2 seasons ago I was climbing Mt. Shavano's SE gully, it was around 10 am and the sun had been on the snow for a few hours. About 3/4 of the way up the couloir I stopped for a snack break. I was sitting in the couloir facing downhill when suddenly I got hit in the back of the head (luckily was wearing helmet) with a rock about the size of a baseball. At this point I turned around just in time to see another rock, this one about the size of a basketball, bouncing down the couloir at what seemed like 30-40 mph. Luckily I was able to get out of the way, scary.

The point is, you should wear a helmet. Especially when BC skiing in the spring, or when mountaineering.
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Old 12-09-2010   #9
dillon, Colorado
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I second spring time and bigger descents...usually in early winter-mid-winter I'm skiing low-angle trees and staying away from avy hazards. In spring I feel like I up the danger both by skiing bigger lines, but also because a lot of time the lines are frozen solid at the top and turn to corn in the middle. Fall potential, avy potential, and rockfall danger are all increased so I bring a bucket. Skiing the hippie trees or vail pass with 2 feet of fresh...I'm probably not going to use one.
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Old 12-09-2010   #10
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Indian Hills, Colorado
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A little helmet story: Two winters ago I was skiing trees on a beautiful powder day. As I made a turn, the front of my board caught by a hidden branch (snow snake), which very immediately catapulted me head first into a tree trunk. Not to say my helmet saved my life, but it confirmed my belief that wearing a helmet is a good idea, every time.
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