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montypiton

deep snow immersion hazard -- r.i.p.

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this winter continues to claim lives in unexpected ways.  Wednesday morning volunteers from King County SAR and Chelan County SAR retrieved the body of a snowboarder buried not far from the base area lodges at Stevens Pass Resort.  the burial occurred near the bottom of the "Housewives" run, only about 50 feet from the edge of the groomed surface, within a few seconds ride to the loading station of either the Skyline Express or the Hogsback chairlift.  The subject had apparently nipped into the trees for some fresh-snow turns, aired a small jump, and failed the landing.  Searchers found him hanging upside down from his snowboard in a creek bed, under seven feet of snow. He had lived long enough to unbuckle one boot from his snowboard before expiring,   It took fifteen shovelers forty-five minutes to complete the extrication.  Over the past month, my ski-partners and I have encountered a frightening number of SOLO skiers and boarders at backcountry venues.  One partner I ski with has developed a habit of taking the name and phone number of each soloist we meet, and phoning them at the end of the day.  (this partner is a retired ER physician with nearly sixty years of high-standard alpinism under his belt).  Every year, I read about needless snow immersion fatalities -  and every report reiterates the absolute need to ski/ride with a partner and keep that partner within sight.  And as this instance clearly illustrates, it's never overkill to ski/ride with a shovel, even in bounds at a lift-served resort.  The mountains are fun, my friends, SERIOUS fun.  Stay safe and take care of one another.

-Haireball

Edited by montypiton
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