A new avalanche backpack will increase a victim’s survival window from 15 To 90 minutes.
A Dangerous Experience
Skiing in the backcountry is potentially a rather dangerous experience. If you injure yourself or have an emergency rescue parties take a lot longer than they would at a resort. And there’s always the risk of avalanches. Fortunately, there are ways to limit that danger. Individuals can take courses to learn about mitigating the danger of an avalanche. Beacons, probes, and shovels make it easier for parties to rescue avalanche victims in shorter periods of time, and avalanche airbags give those caught in an avalanche a decent chance of staying above the snow.
With classes and devices the risk is limited but not completely removed. A Norwegian company has set out to increase chances of survival through the Safeback SBX avalanche backpack.
Avalanche Deaths – Cause and Prevention
Avalanche caused deaths don’t result from a lack of oxygen. Dense avalanche debris sits at around 60-70% air. Victims succumb to carbon dioxide poisoning as gas builds up in the snow around them. The SBX seeks to limit that carbon dioxide buildup by pumping oxygen into the snow surrounding one’s mouth while pushing away the built up carbon dioxide. In an avalanche a victims pull the t-shaped handle located on the shoulder strap. This activates a fan located in the SBX Clean Air Intake placed on one’s back. That fan pumps oxygen from an area lacking CO2 buildup to the Clean Air Outlets on the wearer’s shoulders.
One major advantage is that it doesn’t require a mouthpiece. When you’re stuck under avalanche debris there’s a very good chance you won’t be able to move your arms very much. Meaning a mouthpiece just isn’t very reliable.
The company claims that the device can extend the survival window from 15 minutes to 90 minutes, increasing the chance of a successful rescue.
The Safeback SBX avalanche backpack is set to release during the 2023/24 ski season, and once it’s out, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more information relating to its capabilities.