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Summit County avalanche

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Anyone know more scoop on this? I heard that two of the skiers were Copper instructors ... whoops. I think that's what the TV news said (I didn't see the news, just heard secondhand).



3 skiers safe following two avalanches near Copper Mountain


SUMMIT COUNTY - Three skiers who triggered two avalanches in the Sky Chutes area east of Copper Mountain are safe, but might face charges.

Search and Rescue teams were mobilized Wednesday afternoon after the skiers called to say they had triggered a slide and needed help. The skiers then started traversing their way off the mountain and triggered a second slide.

Rescuers had to hold off going in to help because the snow was too unstable.

The skiers eventually made it down on their own, but spent some time hiding out in the trees before passing through the staging area.

"Yeah, of course we're embarrassed, all these people out here for us, no need, no need," one skier told news crews as he walked away.

Dan Burnett of the Summit County Rescue Group says rescue efforts can amount to $20,000 an hour, though much of the work is done by volunteers.

It appears the skiers cut a rope at the Breckenridge ski area to get to the off limits area. The Summit County Sheriff's Office says it may pursue charges.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center says that the avalanche danger in Summit County right now is moderate in some areas and considerable in others. Experts say the snow pack is in a transitional period and in some places the new snow has not bonded well with the existing snow pack.
post #2 of 27
post #3 of 27
post #4 of 27
Quote:
Quote from the article in the Summit Daily News:

Shortly after, a Flight for Life helicopter crew spotted the group hiding in a cluster of trees.

About 15 minutes later, the three men skied out of the trees into Copper Mountain’s Corn parking lot, which was being used as a base area by dozens of rescuers.

Although they would not identify themselves, the first skier in the group said they were never in any danger and that they were just trying to do the right thing by calling the ski patrol.

“Nobody was caught in anything … we just kind of watched it go and that was that,” he said as he brushed past the cameras from Denver television stations and into an ambulance to be questioned.

When asked why the men were hiding, he responded “we weren’t exactly hiding.”
Safety Meeting!
post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonni
Safety Meeting!
Seriously, though, don't you think they were just trying to avoid triggering any more slides? They make it sound like they were hiding from people.

edit -- I just read the TGR story, and I see what they were doing.
post #6 of 27
Love the TGR thread. I can imagine how panicked the two instructors were especially since one ran the freeskiing program at Copper. Nothing like being in a position of responsibility at one resort and disobeying the rules at another. I'd hide, too.
post #7 of 27
The questions are one should they have gotten tickets and or arrested for ducking the ropes? and should the two instructors loss thier Jobs?
I have no idea what the laws in Colordo are regarding skiing out of bounds. Nor do i knew what The conditions were on that day. If they did duck the ropes then yes they should get a ticket for doing that. I'm not sure how cooper will deal with those two. Maybe the two of them should be made to go to Schools and give talks on ski safty as a community service.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utah49
The questions are one should they have gotten tickets and or arrested for ducking the ropes? and should the two instructors loss thier Jobs?
I have no idea what the laws in Colordo are regarding skiing out of bounds. Nor do i knew what The conditions were on that day. If they did duck the ropes then yes they should get a ticket for doing that. I'm not sure how cooper will deal with those two. Maybe the two of them should be made to go to Schools and give talks on ski safty as a community service.
If you access the bc from a legal access point, then there is no sort of law broken. They did duck a rope which is against Colorado Ski law and they did get a ticket. There is a gate you can access the BC out of the Breck ski area. Conditions in the bc have been kind of crazy lately. Not super dangerous, but wild tempurature changes. On Tuesday about a foot of snow fell on Berthoud Pass alone. It was the super light dry stuff and it stayed cold all day. Yesterday we had a rapid warm up. If those guys had of dropped in 2 or 3 hours earlier, they probably wouldn't have had a problem. I have not ridden with any of those guys in the BC but I do know the CMSummit is an experience BC user and they just made some bad choices yesterday.
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown
Seriously, though, don't you think they were just trying to avoid triggering any more slides? They make it sound like they were hiding from people.
I imagine I can't give any of the details I know from working here. I was slightly involved in the operation yesterday. However, my roommate's girlfriend is the one who wrote the story for the Summit Daily, so I can definitely discuss details she told me.

Anyway, these guys really were pretty dumb about it. They ducked the rope on top of Peak 8 to access the chute. The talk last night (again, this came from Nicole, I didn't hear anything from Copper about this) is that they're going to be charged under the skier safety act for ducking the rope. They were hiding out and there was not much danger of causing more slides - they were already out of danger from where the chutes exit. The slope changes to a really mellow grade and it's in the trees. Rocks funnel snow to either side of where they were. It's about a 400 yard hike out to the road from the bottom of the chutes. I don't know exactly where they were hiding.

Search and rescue could have taken them out via Hwy 91, but they deliberately chose to parade them in front of the press. One of the reporters asked, "Why were you in the trees" and the one guy shouted back "Because of you".

Anyway, that wasn't the dumbest thing they did. If you have any avalanche knowledge at all, you know that spring time is when wet slides occur. The snow melting in the sun runs through till it hits a firm layer of snow. Then it runs down that firm layer rather than to the ground. That ends up turning a middle layer into ice and the entire slab on top will slide on it. In Colorado, you need to be off that terrain by at least noon (I'd say 10am) given the current temps. They didn't duck the rope until 2:30pm. STUPID. Yesterday was bright blue and really warm - the sun was baking the snow early in the morning.

These are people who knew better and could have saved a lot of trouble. I suspect they didn't realize how quickly it would escalate and got in over their heads.
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpringsRegular
Thanks for that link. It cleared up some of the questions I wondered about. Now I know who the third guy is, so I'm going to go see if I can give him some shit..
post #11 of 27
Daddy's Rules for Life #2.
"Don't even get close to trouble and you can't accidently get into trouble."
Ask my daughter for the myriad of applications and corollaries. Even at 10 she knows there are two ways of getting into trouble by ducking a closed trail rope. Physical bodily damage, and if you don't die, punishment for not following the rules.
post #12 of 27
A little more first hand information. These guys had skied that chute 3 times this year. Where the slab released was where they had been digging pits. The first skier who triggered the slide was actually caught in it, but was able to arrest with his poles and didn't go too far.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinn


Search and rescue could have taken them out via Hwy 91, but they deliberately chose to parade them in front of the press. One of the reporters asked, "Why were you in the trees" and the one guy shouted back "Because of you".
And why did they do this? I know some of the things the skiers did was wrong- but they made a point of calling the Copper ski patrol and telling them they were OK after the slide happened. They went out of their way to tell people they didn't need any additional help, but SAR came anyways and "paraded them in front of the press"? Sounds a little pompous (and really stupid) to me... so what if they were hiding in the trees? Is that illegal?
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Dunn
And why did they do this? I know some of the things the skiers did was wrong- but they made a point of calling the Copper ski patrol and telling them they were OK after the slide happened. They went out of their way to tell people they didn't need any additional help, but SAR came anyways and "paraded them in front of the press"? Sounds a little pompous (and really stupid) to me... so what if they were hiding in the trees? Is that illegal?
I wouldn't say it was pompous, but arrogant. It was also demeaning.
post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Dunn
And why did they do this? I know some of the things the skiers did was wrong- but they made a point of calling the Copper ski patrol and telling them they were OK after the slide happened. They went out of their way to tell people they didn't need any additional help, but SAR came anyways and "paraded them in front of the press"? Sounds a little pompous (and really stupid) to me... so what if they were hiding in the trees? Is that illegal?
Of course it's not illegal, but when SAR got there and there were no tracks on the valley floor (after the 3 skiers had called and falsely stated they were out), what were they supposed to think? The skiers weren't completely honest with patrol, and it added to the confusion already going on: 2 slides instead of 1, no sign of the skiers actually making it out, and no sign of the skiers anywhere on the slope.

It would have been a confusing situation anyway, and the fact that the Copper instructors were trying to remain anonymous and give as little info as possible just mixed it up further. I know for a fact that one of the patrol types doesn't feel terribly critical of the 3 skiers; it was just a bit of a mess, and he's mostly just glad that it wasn't a 3-body recovery. They made a dumb choice, and frankly they are lucky to be alive to gripe about the reaction of SAR.

In the end, no harm done (well, except for whatever happens to the Copper employees).
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown
...

In the end, no harm done (well, except for whatever happens to the Copper employees).

...
No sympathy here for those three. :

The fact that they were *hiding* confirms that they knew exactly what they were doing when they ducked the rope. It's illegal, it's dangerous, it entices other less-prepared people to do the same thing, and it potentially places innocent rescuers in harm's way.

I really, really dislike rope-duckers. IMHO, if you use the ski resort's lifts to get up the hill, then you abide by the ski resort's rules. If you don't follow the rules and you get caught (assuming you're still alive), then they ought to throw the book at you. Period.

It's interesting to me that reaction to this incident is so much more tolerant than the reaction about the boarder who killed the woman here in Jackson this winter. What that boarder did was irresponsible and dangerous. What these three did was too.

Bob

Hang 'em hgh.
post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
No sympathy here for those three. :

The fact that they were *hiding* confirms that they knew exactly what they were doing when they ducked the rope. It's illegal, it's dangerous, it entices other less-prepared people to do the same thing, and it potentially places innocent rescuers in harm's way.

I really, really dislike rope-duckers. IMHO, if you use the ski resort's lifts to get up the hill, then you abide by the ski resort's rules. If you don't follow the rules and you get caught (assuming you're still alive), then they ought to throw the book at you. Period.

It's interesting to me that reaction to this incident is so much more tolerant than the reaction about the boarder who killed the woman here in Jackson this winter. What that boarder did was irresponsible and dangerous. What these three did was too.

Bob

Hang 'em hgh.
I personally don't have "sympathy" for them. In fact, I'm a bit incredulous at the animosity toward SAR and Copper patrol. I think any tolerance being shown, however, is because the 3 skiers did recognize that launching a search would put people in jeopardy, and they did try to stop it. A comedy of errors ensued, and the search continued anyway.

And yes, the point remains that their initial actions were wrong, irresponsible, and dangerous. If that helicopter had crashed while looking for nonexistent victims, it would have been HORRIBLE.
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown
I personally don't have "sympathy" for them. In fact, I'm a bit incredulous at the animosity toward SAR and Copper patrol. I think any tolerance being shown, however, is because the 3 skiers did recognize that launching a search would put people in jeopardy, and they did try to stop it. A comedy of errors ensued, and the search continued anyway.

And yes, the point remains that their initial actions were wrong, irresponsible, and dangerous. If that helicopter had crashed while looking for nonexistent victims, it would have been HORRIBLE.
You don't think it would be horrible if a crash occurs when looking for existing skiers? Personally I don't like the idea of an official rescue effort which translates usually in a comedy of errors and misunderstandings. In the east we had an accident were a girl froze to death over-night after being knocked unconscious within a few feet of the trail. I figure if I venture off-piste, rope-a-dope or not, I'm on my own. No phones, no beapers and I'm going to die like a man.
post #19 of 27
If everything I've heard about this is true, the best discription so far is comedy of errors.

Ducking the rope is both wrong and dumb and shouldn't have been done. Had they gone out legally they still could have got to the same area legally.

Assuming the report is correct that they did notify Copper Patrol that they were OK there was no need for SAR.

I believe it is the County Sheriff that has the responsibility to deal with them once it is established that they did cut the rope, and they can clearly use whatever methoud they wish to catch these folks and charge them with whatever they wish, and fines will result etc etc.

If these guys did call patol and indicate they were OK. I would like to know WHO called for the rescue effort. That's the person who filed the false report and also the person who should receive the bill for the search effort. MY .02
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie
...

If these guys did call patol and indicate they were OK. I would like to know WHO called for the rescue effort. That's the person who filed the false report and also the person who should receive the bill for the search effort. MY .02

...
The discussion over on TGR goes into a little more detail. Two things stand out as far as SAR's decisions:

1. A nearby chute also avalanched at about the same time, perhaps sympathetically when the three skiers triggered their avalanche. At that point, SAR didn't know whether anyone was in the second chute and therefore possibly buried.

2. While the three in question did call in *twice* to indicate they were okay, their second call was about an hour before they actually came out of the woods (this is when they were hiding). When SAR got to the base of the chute(s) to investigate, there were no skier tracks leading out of either chute.

At that point, if you're SAR, what conclusion could you possibly come to other than the skiers who had called in the first slide might have been caught in the second while descending?

No tracks out, last call was an hour earlier, no skiers to be found (they were hiding in the woods), and obvious recent avalanche activity in the area. Given that set of information points, what would you do if you were SAR?

Bob
post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
...
At that point, if you're SAR, what conclusion could you possibly come to other than the skiers who had called in the first slide might have been caught in the second while descending?

No tracks out, last call was an hour earlier, no skiers to be found (they were hiding in the woods), and obvious recent avalanche activity in the area. Given that set of information points, what would you do if you were SAR?

Bob
.

Exactly.
post #22 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by swiftskier
You don't think it would be horrible if a crash occurs when looking for existing skiers?....
Well, of course it would be. You know what I meant.
post #23 of 27
I can see both chutes from where I am staying. They are very close together at the point where both were triggered, and both areas are where the tree line begins. They were triggered separately. I estimate the time to get from the fracture on the first slide to the fracture of the second to be maybe 1 minute tops assuming no-one was caught or stranded (on the wrong side of the fracture) in the first slide.

I admit I did not go over to TGR to see what was there. I would be very surprised if the call wasn't made after the second slide was triggered. The two fractures are very close together. There couldn't have been any question in the skiers mind that the chute where the first slide happened was un-skiable. It appears to have gone down to rock.

I have been a bit busy here as many of you may have spotted on some of the threads. I have a connection or two on the school here, so if I can find out anything more ....I'll put it up.
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie
Had they gone out legally they still could have got to the same area legally.
Richard Nixon said >>If it works, it isn't legal.<<
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie

I believe it is the County Sheriff that has the responsibility to deal with them once it is established that they did cut the rope, and they can clearly use whatever methoud they wish to catch these folks and charge them with whatever they wish, and fines will result etc etc.

If these guys did call patol and indicate they were OK. I would like to know WHO called for the rescue effort. That's the person who filed the false report and also the person who should receive the bill for the search effort. MY .02
Thanks for the 2 fer. When I lived in Telluride (a county seat), I watched the Sheriff's dept. bring in a steady stream of guys in orange suits. Once the snows came, they had a similar situation which caught the rap around town. I ignored it, knowing that you have to keep one step ahead of the Sheriff, especially when you are out there beyond the Pale.
post #25 of 27
Final disposition on the two Copper instructors: two-week suspensions starting the beginning of next year plus a leter of reprimand in their files.
post #26 of 27
They got off VERY easy.
post #27 of 27
There's a lot to learn from this close call

http://geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanc...44#Pk664062005

Click on the "April 6, 2005 Tenmile Range" report.

Halsted Morris
CAIC
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