This thread is sparked by the following video of the CAIC investigation of the avalanche that killed a skier just out of bounds from Snowmass.
I'm an expert skier, but I very rarely ski backcountry/sidecountry. I don't have a whole lot of people at the level where they are comfortable doing so, so I'd haev nobody to ski BC with, and skiing solo is a bad idea.
However, the above video scared the hell out of me, because I have kicked off several avalanches significantly larger than that one skiing in bounds. I don't duck ropes, but I commonly ski the deepest terrain available.
All of them were still small. The largest was about 40 feet across, 2 feet deep, and ran for about 400 feet into a treed section. I dropped in off of a cornice, and the snow underneath broke about 10 feet above me when I landed. my skis instantly sunk like a rock in the fluid snow as it slid, but forward momentum carried me to the side of the slide before I fell in.
Others were similar, if smaller. BUT ALL WERE LARGER THAN THE FATAL AVALANCHE SHOWN IN THE VIDEO ABOVE.
Every single slide scared the crap out of me, but I also never thought that they would have been large enough to kill me. Apparently I am wrong.
I have very limited experience in being able to gauge avalanche dangers. I know in general, its very bad when you go several weeks without snow that allows a crust to develop, then get a lot of snow on top of that crust taht has nothing to anchor it. But that is pretty much it.
I never thought too much about avalanche risk skiing in bounds on open terrain. It seems I am wrong.
So, what are reasonable precautions? Take an avalanche safety class? Probe and beacon?
Or is a fatal 14' wide avalanche of 2' of snow a freak accident that I probably shouldn't worry too much about?