Avalanche kills five snowboarders in Colorado today

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Messages 41 - 60 of total 114 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Apr 22, 2013 - 01:36am PT
Pwl. Persistant Weak Layer. These things are harsh. They go quiet for awhile, but never dissipate. You think they are quiet and then they hit. Snow lust is a horrible thing. You convince yourself it's going to be ok, by hitting smaller stuff first, then it isn't.
▀ ╬ ě T ă H

Boulder climber
bouldering
Apr 22, 2013 - 01:49am PT
... wouldn't ski back-country until spring conditions.
I'm not a skier or anything, but I have seen fairly big slides well after any snow has fallen in the Spring/ early Summer.
TwistedCrank

climber
Dingleberry Gulch, Ideeho
Apr 22, 2013 - 10:23am PT
I'm not a skier or anything, but I have seen fairly big slides well after any snow has fallen in the Spring/ early Summer.

You can't generalize about snow pack - anytime, anywhere, ever.

You dig a hole or 10, you jump up and down on it, you run your finger up and down the profile, you poke at it with a shovel, you look at it here, you look at it there. But most importantly you look at it. It's not high energy plasma physics after all.

So much of it is just common sense that most backcountry skiers lack once the powder gives them a chub.
John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Apr 22, 2013 - 10:55am PT
It's an inexact science with a lot of spatial variability thrown into the mix. The only constant is terrain. Finally, the avalanche doesn't know that your an expert!

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Apr 22, 2013 - 11:23am PT
I was on some long flight. The plane had one of those in-flight video systems where you could choose from a variety of videos. I went through the 'extreme sports' vids and watched some bit about 3 strong, sponsored skiers who went to the Chugach range to do some heli skiing.

Conditions were bad. Avi's going off left and right.

These f*#king fools continued to ski and shoot video, despite the obvious danger and their local guides warning them off and trying to find safer aspect.

They each were caught in avalanches. They each BRAGGED ABOUT IT. They each continued to ski after getting caught in slides. One of them, unbelievably, was caught in a 2nd slide.

They called it a day. But the whole vid presented a definite lack of respect for avalanche hazard, start to finish. Some 16-year old kid watching that might be left with the impression that getting caught in an avalanche is simply part of the normal back country experience.

Keep in mind these were industry-sponsored skiers. Doesn't matter by whom, but logos were prominent.

Its easy to blame the victims. And we skiers certainly love the image of the BC and that playground even more. So we're all complicit in this - but there is no question that modern gear and safety equipment, coupled with the Mountain Dew GoPro Watch Me Die Movement (of which I am a part, don't get me wrong) has opened the BC to many (most) people who do not belong there and don't have the good sense to survive on their own, long term.

Oh, but I have an avi-lung!

(I don't)

DMT
Handjam Belay

Gym climber
expat from the truth
Apr 22, 2013 - 11:41am PT
This slide wasn't in the BC backcountry, the flat runout at the bottom is the pavement of I-70...
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Apr 22, 2013 - 11:46am PT
Avy forecasting seems to be more art than science...A large slab cut loose on one of the local BC bowls suprising everyone ...Our winter started out with heavy snowfall and colder than normal temps which i guess contributes to unstable snow...? The local , so-called avy- guru rolled with the incident by pointing out after the fact data that contributed to the fracture...Where's my go pro..?
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Apr 22, 2013 - 11:48am PT
Handjam, the runout gets close to US-6, not I-70.

Not exactly flat there...
steve shea

climber
Apr 22, 2013 - 11:54am PT
I think DMT's BC reference is to any area nonlift serviced or controled by snow safety or ski patrol. ie out of bounds is out of the safety net of ski area boundaries and OB, side country or back country.
In my 35 ski seasons here in Jackson Hole we have had three avalanche deaths in bounds well after snow safety completed control and bomb routes. Sadly all three were ski patrol. Snow science is educated guess work.
Todd's correct, that is hwy6.
BTW a bc skier was recently killed in Little Cottonwood with a deployed ABS bag. DEPLOYED! Everything worked as it was designed but did'nt work. ABS...a lot of bs.
I'm tellin' ya arcing GS turns on groomers at a rapid rate is big fun too.
Betty Uno

Mountain climber
Alti Plano
Apr 22, 2013 - 12:01pm PT

My dh said they were pros getting the first of the last of the last of the season.
It often happens that just as the areas close down, we get a series of blizzards that bring as much in three days as have fallen in the previous month.

It's irresistible.

Reportedly they were all wearing pieps and shovels, but none of them were wearing what I like to call exploding backpacks, the new deals that pop out into airbags and keep one on the surface of the slide

I am very sorry for this loss.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Apr 22, 2013 - 12:04pm PT
Yeah yeah nomenclature! Off piste, out-of-bounds, back country, whatever.

Got some other hairs to split?

DMT
rectorsquid

climber
Lake Tahoe
Apr 22, 2013 - 12:16pm PT
So much of it is just common sense...

Apparently not or people who have detailed knowledge in the subject would not get killed.

As for a false sense of security, that's what most of us felt getting into our cars today. It's pretty crappy to blame people without having been there to see what went on. Maybe their hole wasn't deep enough? Would anyone else have dug deeper? Would anyone else at all have been safer?

Dave
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
Apr 22, 2013 - 12:18pm PT
This is an enormous tragedy and a significantly unusual event to have such a late season snow load.

Yes this is an enormous tragedy, but the weather event that probably led to it is not that unusual, at least to the degree that most of our weather patterns here in CO are seemingly in the process of changing. We have had several major dumps in the last three weeks or so, and getting big spring dumps is the annual norm in this part of the Rockies.

Many years ago, as a Jackson local, I tenaciously skiied Teton Pass with a group of friends, perhaps as many as 70 days per year. We never skiied things like Glory Bowl until we got the stable spring corn conditions. Never. Now, I hear that Glory and other big, avalanche prone areas routinely get skiied in winter conditions. I think what has changed more than the weather patterns is peoples' attitudes about what is safe to ski.

The avalanche danger during this accident was rated and posted on the C.A.I.C. site as "considerable". Colorado's snowpack is almost always dicier than say, the Teton snowpack because of the enormous quantity of temperature gradient snow that accumulates in the snowpack each season. Most avalanche accidents here occur during "considerable" danger, a time when human-triggered slides are likely.

What is not normal is the fact that these recent storms we've had have been more like winter storms, with cold temperatures and relatively dry snow. The weak layers will persist until they melt or avalanche out of the snowpack. It is an extremely fragile situation right now with the recent loading, and people really need to take that "considerable" risk seriously.
TwistedCrank

climber
Dingleberry Gulch, Ideeho
Apr 22, 2013 - 12:21pm PT
Would anyone else at all have been safer?

Only the folks who chose not to enter that terrain on that day.
gnarlydog

Mountain climber
Concord,Ca
Apr 22, 2013 - 12:26pm PT
This is a total bummer. It's dreadful to think people's families are without their loved ones, as a result of having a killer time. But this is reality. Everyday we go out our doors we risk this same judgement. Luckily for them they were able to experience something they loved, to the most of their natural ability. Yes info gathering may help in decision making, but not always. This could happen to anyone, anytime, in the mountains, in traffic or crossing the finish line. My thoughts go out to the families of those lost, and to the souls of those lost as well.
John Duffield

Mountain climber
New York
Apr 22, 2013 - 12:29pm PT
Man.

Every day is a gift.

+ 1
steve shea

climber
Apr 22, 2013 - 12:48pm PT
WBW Glory, 25Short, Stuart's Draw etc. can have bumps by Jan. It is a false sense of security engendered by many sucessful days in the mts. as well as the gear and knowledge. But it only takes one, once. If you push it the odds will get you. Steve Romeo, Jared Spackman mid winter on nasty terrain. What were they thinking? I do not like to revisit anyone's decision but a fact is a fact.
BTW the deposition in that slide looked almost like a serac avalanche. It must have been a bad ride.
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Apr 22, 2013 - 12:57pm PT
Man.

Every day is a gift.

Yup, that's why it's called the "present"

Susan
John Duffield

Mountain climber
New York
Apr 22, 2013 - 01:03pm PT
The secret to out running an avalanche, is a well-timed backflip.

Start @ 1:30

Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
Apr 22, 2013 - 01:28pm PT
Thanks wbw for the perspective on conditions there in CO and yes I agree much of what gets skied today was purposely avoided in the past, there are many examples.

I think we can and often do become victims of our own success and flirt with the voids' edges knowingly or unknowingly. Every day is a gift and don't think for a minute that you're wiser or better than to be caught either by subjective or objective danger. What we do as skiers and climbers is full of hazard, some of the best of us have paid the highest price for this game we play on mountains.

Again my sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

Charlie D.

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