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Ski Customisation: Make a Rescue Sled

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I've been bored over the summer and after watching
this video I thought I'd do some tinkering. I found an article online which I used as a starting point but otherwise found my way via trial-and-error.

The aim is to drill four holes, two in the tips and two in the tails of your skis. You then drill an extra hole in your shovel handle (or cheat and buy a K2 backside shovel which is designed for the purpose) and put a bolt with wingnut in which means that the shovel handle parts then form crosspieces between the parallel skis. You then add poles etc as in the video.

It's worth asking your ski manufacturer what they think, I asked a v good tech and also one of the people from the small company that make my skis and they both reckoned it would work no dramas.

The faff is getting the ski holes to be the right size: it's easiest to drill the handle first so that you can drill the ski holes and buy the bolts to that size. I think mine are 8mm. You can buy brass eyelets from eBay although be careful to make the sure INTERNAL diameter is right as sometimes they are advertised as different measurements. Best to take a bolt to the shop to make life easier. The eyelet likely won't be deep enough so once you've epoxy'd it in then smear any exposed sides of the drilled hole in epoxy as well to seal it all.

After that all you need is cordelette and a bivi bag and you're laughing.

It's a mild faff but it is considerably better than gash options like dragging your mate along on a snowboard or similar. It's not as robust as a proper sled that would be used by securité de piste but it's light, doesn't require much extra kit and can get someone a few miles to land a helo/be picked up by an ambulance.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I've seen quite a few of these ideas over the years, but I've yet to see any improvised sled that I'd be happy for anyone to drag me on after I'd done myself a serious mischief. If it wasn't a serious mischief then I can't see the need for a rescue sled.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Quote:
It's a mild faff but it is considerably better than gash options like dragging your mate along on a snowboard or similar.


It's quite a huge faff. I would like to know the stats on how often an improvised rescue sled has actually helped. I suspect most times its quicker, safer, and easier to use helis or get search and rescue with proper equipment. Perhaps useful for people doing expedition style trips to really remote places, but can't see it being much use for the majority.
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
The Brooks Range ultralight rescue sled was the pick of the bunch for this kind of thing - no need for drilled holes in skis and actually made a pretty solid stretcher that was moderately comfortable for the 'stretchee' with a bit of padding. Sadly they have now shut up shop so they are as rare as hens teeth... Sad

As per the comments above it is not relevant really for many parts of the world where organised rescue is never that far away, but definitely worth thinking about if you are skiing in remote areas.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@OwenM, a torn ACL in deep snow can either immobilise someone or reduce their movement to a few hundred metres an hour (at best guess). Not a life-threatening injury but serious because of the environment. Which option for extrication would you prefer in the trees/poor weather?

@boarder2020, I doubt they're collected. What if you are near the resort but the helo is busy or the cloud is low during bad weather? Hardly uncommon to have poor vis during Jan/Feb when powder is best.

@offpisteskiing, yes I did have a look at that but as you said very difficult to find. This article here http://www.alpinethreadworks.com/winter-evacuation-systems-acmg-newsletter-winter-2010.pdf compared a number of systems and they weren't so keen. I'd be interested to know how long the Brooks is and how/if it could fit various lengths of ski.
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Quote:

What if you are near the resort but the helo is busy or the cloud is low during bad weather?


Then I would call search and rescue, they still operate in bad weather (lift access, skin up, snowmobile etc.). If conditions were that bad I like to think we would make a better choice than to go out of bounds in the first place. I would also be disappointed if between us we didn't have enough clothes to keep 2 people warm while the rest go for help (we usually carry one of those foil emergency blanket things for just this situation).

Like I said there is a need for what you've done, but it's out the scope of 99.9% of skiers as most people are just not skiing anywhere so remote as to make it necessary.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
2 other options out there:
https://snapevac.com/collections/all - clips in to pin bindings, out later this year
http://www.alpinethreadworks.com/products/sledkit.html this is the Alpine threadworks product mentioned in the pdf
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@SBP, thanks that first one is interesting: the advantages are that the victim could use their own skis whereas my idea means I'm walking. Not too heavy either... I wonder how robust it is? Won't fit alpine bindings though but then again if only in isolated areas will be on pin bindings. Clever idea though. Still, my (K2's!) idea needs virtually no extra kit apart from the bolts and cordelette which is likely carried anyway. That tarp is very good as it doubles up as a shelter: could easily build a snow grave/pit and put that over the top with skis as supporting struts. Thanks!

@boarder2020, I think it's more useful than that but fair enough. The advice/idea is there anyway and I've heard a story of a guide doing something similar so he could suspend his skis underneath him during a climb, so there are other uses. To be honest and admit my ignorance I'm not sure to what level skiers are covered when away from the piste and a helo is not feasible: I thought the securité des pistes were just that alone.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
justabod wrote:
@SBP, thanks that first one is interesting: the advantages are that the victim could use their own skis whereas my idea means I'm walking. Not too heavy either... I wonder how robust it is? Won't fit alpine bindings though but then again if only in isolated areas will be on pin bindings. Clever idea though. Still, my (K2's!) idea needs virtually no extra kit apart from the bolts and cordelette which is likely carried anyway. That tarp is very good as it doubles up as a shelter: could easily build a snow grave/pit and put that over the top with skis as supporting struts. Thanks!

@boarder2020, I think it's more useful than that but fair enough. The advice/idea is there anyway and I've heard a story of a guide doing something similar so he could suspend his skis underneath him during a climb, so there are other uses. To be honest and admit my ignorance I'm not sure to what level skiers are covered when away from the piste and a helo is not feasible: I thought the securité des pistes were just that alone.


I must confess to having a pair of waybacks that have the holes and then going out to find the backside shovel - its an older line, so ebay was useful.
B&Q or Screwfix had a variety of bolts and wing nuts.
Sizing them and making a little cloth bag to stop them rattling inside the shovel handle was fairly straight forward.

I need to get out more....
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