Steep snow and ice training Mount Hotham 2009

Bush Search and Rescue's steep snow and ice training was conducted at Mount Hotham in good winter snow conditions on the 18-19 August 2009.  The focus this year was training with our new avalanche transceivers followed by recreational rescue techniques including z-pulleys and self arrest.  The weather was overcast and windy on both Saturday and Sunday.

 Digging out a buried transceiver after finding it


We travelled in a Police bus to Mount Hotham on Saturday morning, arriving late in the morning and utilised the garage at the new Mount Hotham Police Station as a staging and briefing location.

Saturday’s training focused on using the new avalanche transceivers, probes and shovels.  A noticeable improvement in recovery times of simulated patients was recorded during the training.  This highlights the need for regular training with the avalanche transceivers to acquire and maintain proficiency in using them.  On Sunday we setup and operated recreational z-pulley rescue systems, then practiced self arrests on the flanks of Mount Higginbotham outside the ski run area.

The avalanche transceivers, combined with the avalanche probes and shovels, can provide BSAR searchers with additional capabilities for travelling in terrain with some avalanche hazard.  However, it must be noted that they do not actually provide protection from avalanches.


 Search pattern using avalanche transceivers down the slope


 Digging out buried avalanche transceivers


Testing the use of avalanche probes on a half-buried person 


 Australian Powder at Mount Hotham, on our way to the campsite


 Cooking dinner in the snow kitchen


 Snow camping the morning after a snowfall


 The Bush Search and Rescue team


 Demonstrating personal rope and tool technique


 Operating a personal z-pulley haul system


Self arrest practice 


 Self-arrest practice


 Trying out the Bothy shelter

All photos by Peter Campbell.  CC-BY-SA 3.0 licence.  Free to use with attribution.

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