Wilderness Do's and Don'ts: How to Get Out of a Tree Well

March 17 2009, 12:53 PM
After a heavy snowfall, air pockets can form under the low-hanging branches of coniferous trees. These tree wells can become deadly if you fall in headfirst while skiing or snowboarding; you're stuck upside-down and can suffocate. Because most skiers won't avoid skiing in the powder between trees--it is, after all, totally epic--remember this:
Always keep a partner in eyesight. If you fall into a tree well, remain calm--thrashing about will only cause more snow to fall in. Try to unbuckle your boots from your skis or board and turn yourself right side up. Grab the branches and try to pull yourself out. If any partners fall in, don't go for help; dig them out immediately before they suffocate.