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Pucker Face Avy fatality

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

A 29 year old snowboarder died in an avalanche just outside the Jackson Hole boundary

 

http://snowbrains.com/jackson-hole-avalanche-death-today-cody-peak/

 

A pretty big slide from the looks of it.

 

post #2 of 12

A snowmobiler was killed about an hour later in the Palisades area of the Snake River Range.  That's three this season already.

post #3 of 12
First person perspective.

Make sure and read the comments.



http://www.earlyups.com/videos/pucker-avalanche-told-through-a-member-of-the-party/
post #4 of 12

Good write-up there that does outline a lot of sidecountry issues, particularly the group dynamic and false comfort from the presence of others nearby. 

post #5 of 12

It is interesting that several of the comments I've seen about this incident mention the riders' lack of familiarity with the terrain, while in other incidents overfamiliarity is often cited as a contributing factor.

post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post
 

It is interesting that several of the comments I've seen about this incident mention the riders' lack of familiarity with the terrain, while in other incidents overfamiliarity is often cited as a contributing factor.

 

Yep, lotta Monday-morning QB'ing after these things.  Seems like the only common thread in all these cases was that the snow slid and the participants were either lucky or unlucky.

post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldPlank View Post
 

Good write-up there that does outline a lot of sidecountry issues, particularly the group dynamic and false comfort from the presence of others nearby. 

 

That "false comfort" part may be horsefeathers.  

 

The writer of that piece claims that they were made to feel more comfortable by the sight of a JHMR Alpine Guide and group.  What the writer conveniently leaves out is that the slope the guide and party were preparing to ski was nearly 90 degrees different in aspect, was not and had not been in full sun for several hours, and hadn't had the wind-loading effect that Pucker Face had in the previous 36 hours or so.

 

Another thing left out of the account is something that we've heard; that is that the guide in question saw that party preparing to ride on Pucker and told them point blank that the slope wasn't safe.  I haven't had a chance to talk directly to the guide to confirm that, but I've heard it from enough people close to the guide to believe it's probably accurate.

 

Personally, I don't think it's Monday-morning quarterbacking to read through an account like that one and point out the numerous errors that were made resulting in a sad and untimely death.  This one's not easily explained away by simply saying someone was unlucky.

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
 

 

That "false comfort" part may be horsefeathers.  

 

The writer of that piece claims that they were made to feel more comfortable by the sight of a JHMR Alpine Guide and group.  What the writer conveniently leaves out is that the slope the guide and party were preparing to ski was nearly 90 degrees different in aspect, was not and had not beent in full sun for several hours, and hadn't had the wind-loading effect that Pucker Face had in the previous 36 hours or so.

 

Another thing left out of the account is something that we've heard; that is that the guide in question saw that party preparing to ride on Pucker and told them point blank that the slope wasn't safe.  I haven't had a chance to talk directly to the guide to confirm that, but I've heard it from enough people close to the guide to believe it's probably accurate.

 

Personally, I don't think it's Monday-morning quarterbacking to read through an account like that one and point out the numerous errors that were made resulting in a sad and untimely death.  This one's not easily explained away by simply saying someone was unlucky.

I actually agree with both you and the writer of the piece.

 

I do believe the guide warned them.  I do believe that the group of 6 of which one got caught, viewed guides being out with clients as positive social proof, and that they somehow therefore felt ok ignoring the verbal warning.  (Hard to believe, but I have seen this happen repeatedly.) 

 

In terms of means of access, I also agree with the writer of the piece that he could have been affected by the easy of sidecountry versus a bc outing that he seems more used to.  It's not unfair to note that there was ample data right in front of them that didn't require a self-powered ascent to access, since it was in front of them visually or, in the case of the sun and temps and time, there via other direct means.  But, they saw what they wanted to see.

 

The other part of the familiarity story, which is some people wondering if the victim being from CA meant he hadn't yet come to understand the Jackson snowpack, doesn't make sense to me, though.  There's plenty of spooky moderate in CA, and some of the info right in front of this group didn't take local savvy to process. 

 

Would they have made the same decision in a bc circumstance?  Given the way the guy wrote the initial report, I doubt it. 

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hopefully the armchair QB'ing Abox is referring to is the comments from the earlyups link that HarkinBanks posted. I scrupulously avoided any comments of that nature when I started the thread since it tends to bog down the discussion.

Pucker Face is easy to see from the top of the tram, and is a very tempting slope. There is a video of a big avalanche a few years ago with a boarder starting from almost the exact location, but the only one I've seen has some goofy graphics added to it. In that one the boarder hung on and didn't ride it down.
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
 

 

This one's not easily explained away by simply saying someone was unlucky.

 

Agreed...I think the tragedy was consistent with the actions.  The survivors on the other hand were simply lucky. 

post #11 of 12

A bit more info here, http://m.jhnewsandguide.com/news/features/lesson-is-seen-in-slide-death/article_8947b6e4-1ce5-56de-9bc2-4025eb4ffb9c.html?mode=jqm  .  Among the things that jump out to me is the guy in the group tasked with calling SKI PATROL if there was a slide.  There are a lot of things here that show how different sidecountry is from true backcountry situations.  The guy writing still doesn't seem to have processed everything his group should have done but didn't, but I'm sure it's hard to process, and he is trying, even if it can come off as a little self-justifying.  Sure some guides are really frosted over this.

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tundra35 View Post
 

A bit more info here, http://m.jhnewsandguide.com/news/features/lesson-is-seen-in-slide-death/article_8947b6e4-1ce5-56de-9bc2-4025eb4ffb9c.html?mode=jqm  .  Among the things that jump out to me is the guy in the group tasked with calling SKI PATROL if there was a slide.  There are a lot of things here that show how different sidecountry is from true backcountry situations.  The guy writing still doesn't seem to have processed everything his group should have done but didn't, but I'm sure it's hard to process, and he is trying, even if it can come off as a little self-justifying.  Sure some guides are really frosted over this.

All the guides I spoke with are sad that a man is dead.  No one seems to be angry.

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