Air Aid

April 04, 1999

As more skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers travel into the
backcountry, they run the risk of being caught in an avalanche.
The majority of people killed by avalanches are not crushed to
death. Rather, they suffocate, which may seem surprising given
that snow is generally at least 50% air. Now a Salt Lake
City-based company, Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd., has come up
with a device that enables an avalanche victim to breathe that
air. The AvaLung is a lightweight vest that can be worn for
virtually any outdoor activity. Should a person become buried in
a snowpack, he or she can draw in air through a mouthpiece
attached to the vest's collar. It is connected by a tube to a
membrane on the outside of the vest that filters oxygen from the
snow.

Black Diamond takes pains to point out that AvaLung "is not
intended to replace [other avalanche safety equipment, such as]
beacons, probes, good judgment or able companions." The AvaLung
will sustain someone for about an hour, significantly increasing
the chances for survival. More information on the vest, which
retails for about $200, is available at www.avalung.com or by
calling 970-963-4873.

--Mark Bechtel

COLOR PHOTO: LAURA JOHANSEN
COLOR PHOTO: TOM BEAN/TONY STONE IMAGES

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)