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Yikes - major avalanche near Steven's Pass 3 gone


ScaredSilly
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I would not be surprised to hear folks that survive an expereince such as this say that they felt a greater level of safety in an OB area of a resort than in a true BC area. Something about being able to see lights, hear cars, smell exhaust, etc. may tend to make folks believe that they are still in a secure area close to civilization when in fact, they are not.

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I would not be surprised to hear folks that survive an expereince such as this say that they felt a greater level of safety in an OB area of a resort than in a true BC area. Something about being able to see lights, hear cars, smell exhaust, etc. may tend to make folks believe that they are still in a secure area close to civilization when in fact, they are not.

 

+1

Very sad my thoughts go out to everyone.

 

Sobo you make a great point.

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I'd be curious to see statistics on avalanche fatalities of skiers/boarders killed in out of bounds areas accessed by lifts vs true backcountry skiers/boarders killed in avalanches.

 

Here you go (Northwest only):

 

http://alpenglow.org/ski-history/notes/book/logan-1996.html

http://alpenglow.org/ski-history/notes/web/www-avalanche-org.html

 

 

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Sad day. Two of these guys were my friends, and they were some of the most experienced guys around. It was a very experienced group to say the least. I witnessed another big avalanche in the backcountry today, set off by a teenage girl who apparently just didn't have any clue. She got lucky. Educate your kids people. What she did, dropping in on a huge, open bowl alone with no avy gear (hell, even if she had gear), and feet of new snow, was not very smart to put it politely.

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I'd be curious to see statistics on avalanche fatalities of skiers/boarders killed in out of bounds areas accessed by lifts vs true backcountry

 

I can only tell you what that has been like this season in Colorado. Out of the six avalanche fatalities, three were true backcountry (including a snowmobiler) and two were actually in-bounds but in closed areas.

 

We have had a scary layer-cake snowpack this season, so much so that I have been playing it very conservative.

 

My condolences to all the friends and families of the victims. One of the victims is known to us here in 'rado.

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Very sad news indeed.

 

I'm pretty wussy when it comes to avy danger but I was surprised to hear that a group was descending a "natural avalanche chute" right after a storm had just deposited 26" of new snow in the previous 48 hours and the temps were warming up. I was at Stevens today and the snow was fairly heavy.

 

Does anyone know if they did a block test?

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Can we save all the speculation and poor choices talk for another day? Let's let people grieve for the loss of their friends, and then hopefully gain some insight into what happened so the rest of us can learn from what happened.

 

Thanks.

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I would not be surprised to hear folks that survive an expereince such as this say that they felt a greater level of safety in an OB area of a resort than in a true BC area. Something about being able to see lights, hear cars, smell exhaust, etc. may tend to make folks believe that they are still in a secure area close to civilization when in fact, they are not.

 

Agree with this for sure. Sad news.

 

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I was speaking more from personal experience than concerning this case. I'm sure they were and am sorry to sound like I was speculating. It is not a useful thing to do. Sorry you lost your friends, it's terrible.

 

My comment wasn't directed at you, I was answering the earlier question about their experience in the BC.

 

I'd agree that people tend to get in more trouble in lift accessed BC. It's easier to get comfortable with a zone and maybe a little complacent when you don't have to work as hard for it. Also, you are less exposed to avalanche hazards on the approach to a line (if you are going from a lift), which means that one might be analyzing the slopes a little less. If you are skinning or boot packing long distances and up slopes somewhat similar to those you will be skiing, you are going to know a lot more about what's going on.

 

That said, more and more people are going into the BC, both lift accessed and not, and not all of them understand the dangers. Obviously, as we see here and all too often, knowledge can't save us every time. Looking at NWAC is a part of knowing what's going on, but there is a lot more to it. I and many other people sometimes ski in the bc when the avalanche danger is in the red. You do tests, observe what's going on, ski where you think the dangers are reasonable, and be careful. When I saw the avalanche triggered by the girl that I mentioned earlier I was in the BC on my way to ski in a popular treed area that I frequent on more dangerous days when I saw her drop into a huge open bowl that I wouldn't think of skiing on a deep day. Even before the snow started moving I knew that she had done something dumb. It slid down to an ice layer and I skied down to her with many eyes on me and did a beacon search after helping her to make sure no one else was involved (though she and many others out there don't have beacons).

 

Tunnel Creek, where the bad slide happened, is south to southwest facing and was orange (considerable) on NWAC's danger rose yesterday. Last year's death there involved someone who was pulled headfirst into a tree, but not buried. That incident specifically motivated me to start wearing a helmet more often. I skied Tunnel Creek on Saturday afternoon after hearing that another group did it. I think that the avalanche danger was probably considerable or high on Saturday. We did not dig a pit because we knew that the slopes were windloaded and dangerous, but would improve as we got away from the ridge top. We went very carefully, taking turns watching each other move between points of relative safety, and stayed in the trees where we could. We set off deep slough slides where there was windloading up high, but nothing propagated like it did yesterday, and we moved slowly to manage our slides. Another foot or so fell (plus windloading) after I was up there. I consider myself to be a more conservative skier than most of my friends who are into it, but you can see plainly that we were close to the line that day. Obviously it's a lot to think about.

 

Something else worth mentioning is that the skier that survived the avalanche was wearing one of those inflatable airbag backpack things, and it probably played a big roll in her survival. I think that I'll be wearing one before too long.

 

There is a lot to be said about skiing and climbing and personal responsibility and freedom and risk and all of that, but I can't keep typing forever. I'll just say that for me, and I'm sure that my lost friends would agree, there is just no turning back. These activities define our lives and make them beautiful. I've tried to tone it down and live the normal city life of work and bars and parks and gyms, but I can't erase the mountains and what they give me from my mind.

 

This has been posted here before, it starts Jim Jack. He lived more than most:

 

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Total bummer. Given this was a highly-experience crew which was intimately familiar with the terrain it brings up the discussion around how accurately can [any]one judge objective hazards in the mountains. Maybe over time it will come out how much individual / collective evaluation went into this particular slope before pushing off - did it really look o.k. or was it a case of somehow being overly familiar with the terrain? Tough business either way.

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Total bummer. Given this was a highly-experience crew which was intimately familiar with the terrain it brings up the discussion around how accurately can [any]one judge objective hazards in the mountains. Maybe over time it will come out how much individual / collective evaluation went into this particular slope before pushing off - did it really look o.k. or was it a case of somehow being overly familiar with the terrain? Tough business either way.

 

I think we can all relate with a feeling of security on slopes that would otherwise be classical avy terrain, if we've spent a lot of time on it in the past and never seen it avy.

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