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Sad avalanche news.

dloveski

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#1
Early winter in the Wasatch is avy season. Early season snow, followed by a period without new snow, followed by dumps of heavy wet snow makes for a tricky backcountry. Consider putting heavy slurry on a bed of broken up potato chips and then walking on it.

The temptation to hunt for powder, especially right off the chair lifts, is great. Unfortunately, it often does not end well.

https://utahavalanchecenter.org/avalanche/48826
 

SierraLuLu

Certified Ski Diva
#4
More avalanche reports from the Rockies this weekend (but luckily no other deaths). Note, all were triggered by people going into closed areas that they accessed via a resort.

Eight People Caught in Inbounds Avalanche in Closed Area at Steamboat Resort, CO | 1 Fully Buried https://snowbrains.com/steamboat-resort-inbounds-avalanche/

Avalanche triggered in closed area of Copper Mountain Resort https://www.summitdaily.com/news/avalanche-triggered-in-closed-area-of-copper-mountain-resort/

Be careful, divas!
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#5
There was a huge inbounds slide at Grand Targhee two weeks ago, too. Old October snow, thawed then refroze, followed by 20 inches of blower. Same situation at many places in the west. Refrozen sheet, followed by blower, followed by last week's storm that was warm and the snow was heavy.
 

Little Lightning

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#6
1st Colorado death this season. http://www.startribune.com/backcountry-skier-killed-in-northern-colorado-avalanche/565976261/

It doesn't seem like we had enough snow to cause this. At least not in Summit County. In the last couple of weeks the warnings were all over the radio stations and newspapers. Comments on the radio recommend skiers understand what the dangers are and have appropriate gear with them. It sounded like often the skiers are under trained and ill equipped.

BTW, the Copper slide was caused by an out of bounds skier.

The 10 Mile bike path between Frisco and Copper was closed in early Oct. as a precaution for slides. This is the area where the slides occurred along I-70 last March.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#7
It doesn't seem like we had enough snow to cause this. At least not in Summit County. In the last couple of weeks the warnings were all over the radio stations and newspapers.
From what I've read, it was the way the weather was in Oct and Nov that set up Colorado and Utah for pretty unstable snowpack after the early December storms. Seems as if the incidents have been human triggered slides, some in what some people think of as "side country." But as has been written for quite a while, once out a gate it's all "back country." When there are even in-bound slides such as the one at Steamboat, it's time to be very careful.

Sad. :frown:
 
#8
There will always be some that will never learn. People, mostly males ages 13-49, will continue to approach too closely to wildlife, enter swift water, hike or climb beyond their abilities, walk off the boardwalks in to thermal pools at Yellowstone, set off on a hike in Death Valley in 120° heat without water, take photos at the lip of canyons, ski where they shouldn't, and in general walk past danger/closed signs in all sorts of areas.
 

Kimmyt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
I was talking to Copper ski patrol the other day and they were saying that the recent storm basically dropped a ton of moisture-dense snow on top of old manky snow (akin to ball bearings), and the snowpack is super sketchy right now as a result. They were bombing the heck out of things today!
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#10
I think it's important to keep in mind that avalanches can happen to anyone, any time, and that we all need to be cognizant of conditions and undergo proper training if we're skiing where avalanches can occur. The Ski Patrol has a hard job to do; let's not make it any more difficult!
 
#11
There will always be some that will never learn. People, mostly males ages 13-49, will continue to approach too closely to wildlife, enter swift water, hike or climb beyond their abilities, walk off the boardwalks in to thermal pools at Yellowstone, set off on a hike in Death Valley in 120° heat without water, take photos at the lip of canyons, ski where they shouldn't, and in general walk past danger/closed signs in all sorts of areas.
Not to mention their driving. And death-defying antics on motorcycles. And the all-time favorite - drinking+extreme sports.
 

dloveski

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#13
Early season is tricky and unstable. A few years ago, we took an avalanche course in the backcountry in mid-December and the snow depth was minimal. We had to side slip down a very rocky chute one at a time, barely enough snow to slide on. And lo and behold---in a chute south of me, another class triggered a slide in their chute and one lost his ski (even in shallow snow, it happened). The ski was gone, couldn't be found.

So, even in shallow snow, a slide was triggered enough to sweep away this guy's ski. I somehow thought there had to be deep snow, but all it takes is a couple of layers of two different storms that haven't bonded to slide.
 
#14
Early season is tricky and unstable. A few years ago, we took an avalanche course in the backcountry in mid-December and the snow depth was minimal. We had to side slip down a very rocky chute one at a time, barely enough snow to slide on. And lo and behold---in a chute south of me, another class triggered a slide in their chute and one lost his ski (even in shallow snow, it happened). The ski was gone, couldn't be found.

So, even in shallow snow, a slide was triggered enough to sweep away this guy's ski. I somehow thought there had to be deep snow, but all it takes is a couple of layers of two different storms that haven't bonded to slide.
Scary!
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#15
I'd encourage people to discuss the accidents with utmost empathy when discussing accidents. The ski community is smaller than it seems, and it's only a matter of time before one of these accidents involves a Diva or someone close to her.

I've been swept in a super small slide and had friends with close calls, and I believe that while some accidents happen due to utter recklessness, the vast majority are small mistakes where the margins for error are incredibly small. In my case, my layers for the day were completely overkill, which should've alerted me to the fact that it was 10+ degrees warmer than forecasted and that my moderate rating was thus null & void.

In this case, the conditions were considerable. On the US rating scale, experts don't explicitly advise avoiding avalanche terrain until high or extreme. And while it seems super cut & dry that the victim rode an aspect that was explicitly called out as problematic, there are plenty of ways that can happen (it's a familiar line that you thought faced a different aspect so you never check the map, compass polarity issues). I'd hold off passing judgment until the full report comes out.

The Guardian has a stellar article on the "after" part of an avalanche. I'd write like the survivors of the accident or the victims' families are reading these types of posts, because they probably are.

Likewise, when we say that accidents happen to "those people" who don't have education/common sense/a regard for safety, it actually makes ourselves less safe. Alpine Institute has a great piece on how to read an accident report, emphasizing that it mainly helps us when we try to put ourselves in the victim's shoes and figure out in what scenario we could find ourselves in the same situation. When you see the same scenario starting to play out IRL, you've already created your checks and balances to help keep you safe. (In the Utah case, I have a terrible sense of direction, so it reinforces to double check the map even if I don't need it for navigation on familiar runs, and to use my navigation tools when I'm on the mountain to be even more sure).
 
#16
@Analisa - you do make a good point, and I’m grateful. We need to be mindful ourselves, of how easy it can be to make a dire mistake. I’ve read about the internal and peer pressure that hikers or skiers can feel to summit, or to take the planned line, even in the face of extensive safety training and awareness. If we haven’t been there, we could easily misjudge.

In addition, your call for empathy is important. I suspect we all unconsciously are glad it happened to someone else, and like to feel that we are smarter than that.

I will try to locate an article about the impact of emotion in decision-making in these types of situations. It was an eye-opener for me. It didn’t stop me from joining the general zeitgeist on this thread, though. Wanting to be different, and smarter, than someone who gets caught in an avalanche is also a very powerful emotional pull.
 
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#18
For those who ski in the west most often, do you wear a beacon inbounds? With this most recent grouping of inbound slides, I’m seeing this suggestion more and more on forum discussions. I only usually ski in the west once per season, and usually don’t think about that since it’s not really a consideration in the east. However, I do have a beacon since I’m starting to get into AT, and I’m wondering if it’s something to start bringing west for trips such as diva west in Jackson Hole this season. Is this overkill, or are people moving in this direction for big snow days?
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#19
@MissySki - I do for runs that aren't named, or huge storm days where snow's coming down in feet instead of inches. Overkill? Maybe. But I already own it, and batteries are cheap.

Recent pieces like the Steamboat accident where bystanders with avy gear helped ensure the victim lived reinforces that it can make a really big difference to have the gear on you.