Tree Well versus Spruce Trap - What is the difference?

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peakbagger

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https://www.newscentermaine.com/art...kiing/97-f3f0fdd3-07f8-4930-8fe0-d0c495193b46
I saw this on the news. Sugarloaf told NEWS CENTER Maine that what happened to the skier is extremely rare at that resort — or anywhere else on the East Coast. Having hung upside down in pair of snowshoes in spruce trap is the difference that I swore profusely, upstrapped my snowshoes and extracted myself the difference? Or is that it happened to someone at ski area?.
 
Fundementally, they're the same thing. Practically, tree wells form around the trunks of large trees that people fall into. They don't typically involve the branches. Spruce traps (in the East) are entire trees hidden under the snow with the branches holding up mostly unsupported snow. They collapse under the weight of an unsuspecting hiker/skier.
 
Fundementally, they're the same thing. Practically, tree wells form around the trunks of large trees that people fall into. They don't typically involve the branches. Spruce traps (in the East) are entire trees hidden under the snow with the branches holding up mostly unsupported snow. They collapse under the weight of an unsuspecting hiker/skier.
I agree. Although it could be a debate of semantics this incident IMO looks much more like a spruce trap. Here is an example of a tree well. Either way it is not a good situation.
 
IMO they are not a rare "out east" as represented as I expect most of us have experienced them.
agreed. Happened to me at Saddleback about 12 years ago. There was a lot of snow below the AT, above the top of the lift. Me, and a guy about 150 feet away, went into traps almost simultaneously. I was able to self rescue. The guy's buddies pulled him out. It was a winter with two 4 foot plus snowfalls in western Maine.
 
Also, check out Naomi Watts (aka PVSART’s Pam Bales) dealing with the spruce trap in the film “Infinite Storm.” Pam told me that she thought the scene was overdone, Hollywood-style, but I did not. 🙂
 
Spruce traps and tree wells produce the same results in the ADKs. I've fallen in ones where everything collapses and the sides disappear while trying to climb out. I've also had my snowshoes caught by spruce branches and been semi upside down. The best spruce trap I've experienced was high the the ADK Range Trails near Gothics. First one of our group fell in, then successively a few others as we tried to extract the victims. Forever after known as the Spruce Trap Hot Tub.
 
Spruce traps and tree wells produce the same results in the ADKs. I've fallen in ones where everything collapses and the sides disappear while trying to climb out. I've also had my snowshoes caught by spruce branches and been semi upside down. The best spruce trap I've experienced was high the the ADK Range Trails near Gothics. First one of our group fell in, then successively a few others as we tried to extract the victims. Forever after known as the Spruce Trap Hot Tub.

"The best spruce trap I've experienced was high the the ADK Range Trails near Gothics".
I guess that is a matter of perspective rhetorically.
 
Always thought of the wells as sun heating up trees and snow melting away from trunk. Spruce traps are just that. Sideways or upside down with tire sherpa snowshoes hopelessly tangled in a myriad of stubby stout branches.
Although there was a time I was snowshoeing next to a park road and dropped straight into 6’+ deep empty culvert with a light snow crust over it. That was embarrassing..
 
I associate tree wells more with b/c skiing in the West. You always b/c ski with a buddy because if you get buried in an avalanche or fall upside down into a tree well, the chances of suffocation are similar. At least the snow that buries one in a tree well does not quickly set up like concrete as in an avalanche, so there is a better chance that your buddy can dig you out in time.

From my experience with spruce traps in the East, it is the entanglement of branches and snowshoes as Rick notes that is so frustrating, rather than the possibility of suffocation by loose snow filling in the open space.
 
I associate tree wells more with b/c skiing in the West. You always b/c ski with a buddy because if you get buried in an avalanche or fall upside down into a tree well, the chances of suffocation are similar. At least the snow that buries one in a tree well does not quickly set up like concrete as in an avalanche, so there is a better chance that your buddy can dig you out in time.

From my experience with spruce traps in the East, it is the entanglement of branches and snowshoes as Rick notes that is so frustrating, rather than the possibility of suffocation by loose snow filling in the open space.
Good advice. Even the Moose need a buddy now and again. VIDEO: Snowmobilers Dig Out Moose Trapped in DEEP Tree Well - SnowBrains
 
Somehow the entire film "Infinite Storm" is up on YouTube. I'd say, catch it before it goes away, but it's been there for 10 months.

The spruce trap scene starts just after this link to 22:22 into the film:



Enjoy.
 
The guy is lucky to be alive. Pure luck that another guy unrelated with his party just happened to ski by at the right moment.
 
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