Avalanche air bags now standard issue for Alaska heli-ski clients
The winter of 2012-13 is so far shaping up to be epic in the North American West and in the Alps with big snowstorms. Powder snow means massive pleasure for skiers and snowboarders, especially in the unpatrolled, uncountrolled backcountry but even inbounds. On Monday, a 20-year-old skier and two companions were caught by an in-bounds slide at Crystal Mountain, Washington. Two managed to extricate themselves, and fortunately Ski Patrol reached Emily Anderson and dug her out in 10 or 15 minutes. She had the presence of mind to clear airspace in front of her face as she was covered, and when Patrol got to her, she was conscious, breathing and happy to be alive — and ready to ski again.
Chugach Powder Guides, an Alaskan heli-ski operator, is one of the first in the United States to provide avalanche air bags to guests free of charge with Mammut’s Rocker R.A.S. (Removable Airbag System) 18 now part of the company’s standard issue safety gear provided to each heli-skier, including Mammut Pulse Barryvox avalanche transceiver. Mammut first integrated the Removable Airbag System, developed by the Swiss company Snowpulse SA, into its snow backpacks in 2011.
While other operators dogive clients an opportunity to rent an air bag system, Chugach Powder Guides supplies it to guests at no extra cost. Like Kleenex or Scoth Tape, the trade name AvaLung is often used to describe all such airbags.
Founded in 1997, Chugach Powder Guides is headquartered in Girdwood at the Alyeska Resort and also has operations in Seward and the Tordrillo Mountains. Chugach Powder Guides offers a variety of heli-skiing and snowcat skiing adventures ranging from one day to one week. the company is a member of Heli-Ski U.S. Association.