Friday, January 14, 2005

I wish that I were competent in cool things such as avalanche prediction. It is my utmost desire to travel via ski to the more remote places in the snowy mountains around nagano, but my boundless enthusiasm has had a kick in the shorts after receiving this email from a fellow foreigner in the area.

If you or one of your friends starts a slab avalanche, you have a few seconds to get off that slab before it breaks up and you fall over. Once you're down, your board/skies will dag you under. If you make it unscathed to where the avalanche finally settles, you will often be in a sitting position. You have 2 options then. Try to punch a hole through the snow before it freezes or try to make as big a breathing space around your head as possible. All it takes is a few cm above your outstretched hand. As you breathe under the snow, your breath will melt patches of the surrounding snow which will immediately re-freeze to form a fatal bubble of ice around your head- not a nice way to go.Avalanche snow settles and freezes within seconds. You will not be able to wriggle or move. Snowboards or skis have no chance of getting through it. You have approx 15 mins of breathing air available before you fall unconscious. Then your brain has a further 3-4 mins before it starts dying of oxygen starvation. So your friends have 15 mins to dig a hole for you to breathe on your own

I'm reminded about my tendency to go overboard with stuff. I tend to get an idea in my head and obscess about it for a good long while and then, without much experience to back my mental calculations, i go nuts. Former roomates and friends of mine will readily confess that it can happen that I get in a little over my head. One might consider my home-made banana moonshine or the cortizone injection that I whipped up in our kitchen using some anti-itch spray and a bit of stolen lab equipment.
I guess the moral of this story is, I should probably show some restraint when venturing out of the groomed tracks this winter. Please, all you praying folk, pray for my willpower and restraint.

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