The Life and Times of A SCGB Rep. - A Talk By Alan Brown - November 6th

Reporter: Steve Crossley

Alan opened his very enlightening talk with the question, "What's behind the SCGB jacket?" Clearly the striking green jacket carries great kudos, and the presence of a SCGB representative in a resort helps to promote the resort by bringing in SCGB members. (Hopefully in return the resort may provide the rep. with free accommodation and/or lift pass.)

To become a SCBG rep. one has to be outward going and to be able to ski! Sounds simple - but it's not!

The first requirement is to take the two-day first aid course with particular reference to handling injuries in the open air. This is followed by a practical training course in Tignes in December. Whilst the reps are not ski guides and do not give instruction, they must be able to ski in all conditions both on and off piste.

In the resort the rep. is a source of information for SCGB members regarding snow conditions, weather forecasts, restaurants, discounts in local shop, arranging group skiing and meeting places for the group.

Mixed ability in a group can be a problem. When asked about their ability, men tend to exaggerate, women are more accurate. The truth comes out on the mountain! Another problem; pushy husbands, slower wife. Alan's solution... 'separation' by making the husband the back marker!

How to ski safely off piste: The SCGB rep. must go out with a guide to be shown where avalanches happen and where not.

Having said that, Alan told us all about Henry's avalanche rescue course:

  • Apparently 10% - 20% of victims caught in an avalanche is killed by the avalanche.
  • 60% of victims buried in snow will be dead if not dug out and clear in 20 minutes.

Alan also pointed out that if you are amongst trees in an avalanche, you probably will get killed hitting a tree!

Alan then showed us and demonstrated a Transceiver; a device that transmits and receives radio signals and is worn around the waist. In the event of a skier being buried in snow, radio signals are transmitted to the receivers of the skiers on the surface giving a direction to the buried skier. The range of the signal is about 100 metres, and the signal becomes more and more rapid the closer you get. Then is the time to use the probe and shovel.

When group skiing Alan always carries an enormous back-pack with contents for every eventuality for the SCGB members: spare jumpers, hats, goggles, gloves, duct tape etc, everything to keep the group going.

Pre-booking lunch is very important. The rep. must know +/- 5 minutes when to book and use delaying / speeding tactics to arrive on time. Back at the resort the rep's snow report has to be in by 5pm each day.

A sobering thought to end with; accident statistics show that most accidents occur around 11am to 3.30pm and on the 3rd or 4th day of the week. Beware!