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Inbounds slide at A-Basin: 1 fatality

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 
I just overheard something on KSMT and didn't catch much of details. Apparently there was an inbounds slide at A Basin this morning at 10:30am. It could have been the Pali face - it was definitely in that area. There was 1 fatality. A Basin is still open today with the exception of Pali. It's a warm day - about 75 degrees here at 9600'.

As far as I know, this is the first inbounds avalanche fatality in the US. Or, at least its the first one in a long time.
post #2 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinn
I just overheard something on KSMT and didn't catch much of details. Apparently there was an inbounds slide at A Basin this morning at 10:30am. It could have been the Pali face - it was definitely in that area. There was 1 fatality. A Basin is still open today with the exception of Pali. It's a warm day - about 75 degrees here at 9600'.

As far as I know, this is the first inbounds avalanche fatality in the US. Or, at least its the first one in a long time.
I heard the report, may be more. It was on a closed slope or in a closed area.
post #3 of 60
Thread Starter 
9News has this report:

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FRISCO, Colo. (AP) - One person is dead in a huge avalanche at the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, and Search and Rescue crews are probing for more victims.

Summit County authorities say workers tried to revive the man for about a half-hour before pronouncing him dead on the mountain.

Undersheriff Derek Woodman says the slide was about 1,000-feet wide, and roughly 800-feet down.

The avalanche was contained to the top of A-Basin's Pallavicini run, which was reportedly closed at the time of the slide.

----

Current Summit Daily report:

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ARAPAHOE BASIN — An inbounds slide on the expert Pallavicini face at the Arapahoe Basin ski area trapped at least one person who was carried out before rescuers suspended efforts at about 12:45 p.m.

Rescuers were performing CPR.

Early reports are that the slide was about 200 feet wide and and occurred in the Pallavicini Alleys on skiers left of the mountain.

Searchers suspended actions because of unsafe conditions in the wet snow.

This story will be updated.

----
post #4 of 60
A matter of minutes.

I was doing some runs at the Basin this morning and ran into SCSA about 10:15. He was on his way to ski Pali, but decided to join me on a top-to-bottom groomed run first. We skied it, then made a pit stop at the base and headed up the Pali chair. We got to the top 15 minutes after the slide. SCSA was going to that exact area when we met. He said he probably would have been in the middle of it when it let go. When I left him, SCSA was still looking for a friend who said he'd meet him and hadn't shown up. The friend skis that part of Pali a lot.

The slide is about 200-300 feet wide and about 1,000 long--top to bottom of the run, right through the trees.

When folks tell you to live each day as if it could be your last...listen to them.
post #5 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinn
As far as I know, this is the first inbounds avalanche fatality in the US. Or, at least its the first one in a long time.
Not a bit true.

Regardless let us hope for the best. Thoughts out to the family of the victim.
post #6 of 60
Mike glad both you and SCSA are OK. Hope that his friend is OK too. Let us know what you hear.
post #7 of 60
Krystal 93 is reporting the fatality was a 54 year old male from the Front Range.

Further search work has been suspended for the day due to avalanche danger.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Follow-up

According to a Denver TV station it was a 40 year old male. They showed video of the slide debris-very disturbing.
post #8 of 60
Mike and SCSA, I am so glad you guys didn't get into this slide, with the melt water making mud under the snow they can break loose at anytime....

.....Ott
post #9 of 60
post #10 of 60
What a close one. You guys are sure lucky. I sure hope that SCSA's friend is not the fatality.
post #11 of 60
Mike, darn you, it took me this long to find an instructor I really like. You better take of yourself!
post #12 of 60
RIP to the one who didn't make it. Plus keeping strong positive thoughts for the folks who will continue with the search efforts.
post #13 of 60
SCSA actually wrote a very touching account of this on realskiers:
http://www.realskiers.com/pmtsforum/viewtopic.php?t=573
post #14 of 60
Here are two links to news stories on this tradegy:

http://www.summitdaily.com/article/2.../NEWS/50520002

http://rockymountainnews.com/drmn/st...795833,00.html

Looking at the debris field it is really scary. That is a line I ski often.
post #15 of 60
A real shame. That's the side of Pali that I always ski. The most consistant snow there. I'm sure many of us can relate to the steepness and the dual fall line next to the trees there.

Skiing a closed run is very dangerous as we sometimes take for granted the fact that even though it's closed, there's good snow there and take the chance. I would say the reason the run was closed was because it was deemed unstable. Sometimes we take chances and get away with an awesomely big smile and a rush of wow! This time it was the opposite. The rush of adrenline and the heartbeat of knowing you're in serious trouble and hope like hell you make it.

Death is always around the corner waiting for it to be our turn. None of us could imagine what it would be like to be burried alive by an avalanche. I don't know if there is any good way to die. I always said I'd like to go doing something I loved doing. There's nothing better or mmore enjoyable to me than skiing. That being the case, lets hope he was enjoying himself and didn't see it comming and died with a smile on his face.

The stupidity of skiing a closed run speaks for itself.
post #16 of 60
the Run Was Not Closed!!!!!!
post #17 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars
A real shame. That's the side of Pali that I always ski. The most consistant snow there. I'm sure many of us can relate to the steepness and the dual fall line next to the trees there.

Skiing a closed run is very dangerous as we sometimes take for granted the fact that even though it's closed, there's good snow there and take the chance. I would say the reason the run was closed was because it was deemed unstable. Sometimes we take chances and get away with an awesomely big smile and a rush of wow! This time it was the opposite. The rush of adrenline and the heartbeat of knowing you're in serious trouble and hope like hell you make it.

Death is always around the corner waiting for it to be our turn. None of us could imagine what it would be like to be burried alive by an avalanche. I don't know if there is any good way to die. I always said I'd like to go doing something I loved doing. There's nothing better or mmore enjoyable to me than skiing. That being the case, lets hope he was enjoying himself and didn't see it comming and died with a smile on his face.

The stupidity of skiing a closed run speaks for itself.
THE RUN WASN'T CLOSED! All of the newspapers are mis-reporting their facts. The runs on Pali were open yesterday.
post #18 of 60
All radio stations reported it was closed also, but Denver TV CBS4 Denver reported it open

http://news4colorado.com/topstories/...140142005.html
post #19 of 60
Thread Starter 
I'm pretty sure it was open. For example, SCSA said he was going to go ski over there. Even the initial radio report on KSMT said it was an open run. The 2nd Alley doesn't sound like a run that would be closed right now if the Pali bowl was open - it's more shaded and usually has better coverage.
post #20 of 60
I was up there today. People I talked to on the lift who were there Friday said Pali was open. A friend of mine skied it all day Thursday. He said Friday they were going to start closing Pali at 2PM like they typically do late in the season. He said the snow had weak coherence when he left Thursday around 2PM. None of the runs off Pali and the East wall are open now. The cruisers are still in good shape (I even checked out some new race skis in the morning). There were multiple slides on the east wall, some large. They set off charges on Pali today while I was there and pretty much brought down the whole run. I took some pictures and will post them after I reduce their size. The difference in one week since I was there last Saturday is staggering. I don't remember such a drastic change so fast.
post #21 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcahill
He said the snow had weak coherence when he left Thursday around 2PM.
There is some weak coherence (sic) here in associating a skier death with stupidity.
post #22 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy
There is some weak coherence (sic) here in associating a skier death with stupidity.
9 times out of ten skier deaths are related to stupidity. Under the ropes, in a closed area, jumping off something "stupid".
This looks like the 1 in ten that wasn't stupid, just tragic!

I don't believe any one run could be so good that it would be worth all the runs the rest of my life!
Would one night with Pamela Anderson or Eva Longoria worth trading for all future sex?

Maybe?
post #23 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy
There is some weak coherence (sic) here in associating a skier death with stupidity.
I don't understand point of this post. The snow conditions might have been outside the normal understanding of snow dynamics. The fact that the run was open and someone chose to ride it has no relation to stupidity on anyones part. Nature continues to surprise us all and can lead to sometimes tragic events. I don't think anyone is at fault or exercised poor judgement. As an aerospace engineer I see the results of unlikely events all the time (Apollo 13, Hubble, Challenger, Columbia). Our ability to prevent tragedy is limited and the best we can do is to learn from each experience without conducting a witch hunt. My comment about snow coherence was just an observation by a fellow engineer and had no asscociated judgement attached.
post #24 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcahill
I don't understand point of this post. The snow conditions might have been outside the normal understanding of snow dynamics. The fact that the run was open and someone chose to ride it has no relation to stupidity on anyones part. Nature continues to surprise us all and can lead to sometimes tragic events. I don't think anyone is at fault or exercised poor judgement. As an aerospace engineer I see the results of unlikely events all the time (Apollo 13, Hubble, Challenger, Columbia). Our ability to prevent tragedy is limited and the best we can do is to learn from each experience without conducting a witch hunt. My comment about snow coherence was just an observation by a fellow engineer and had no asscociated judgement attached.
I was chiding someone else's comment re;stupidity.

The fact of the matter is the run was open. Whether open or not, I didn't think the comment was particularly timely, given the fact that someone passed away.

There are a great many "experts" around Boulder monday morning quarterbacking the resort keeping that area open. In years past it seems to me that part of the resort was always closed The CAIC and Summit County news reported several other slides late last week.
post #25 of 60
Chide me if youwant Rusty Guy. When I made my comment about stupidity, it was related to the statement made that the run was closed. That's it!

It is still my opinion that skiing a closed run is stupid. I'll argue that fact with you all day if you want.

Someone passes away every minute in this world due to stupidity. That's a fact, timely or not.

If the run was open, as it now is reported that it was, then my stupidity lable does not apply. I have as big a heart for compassion then anyone and my thoughts and condolences' go out to the loved ones surviving the man.

Here's a good question, is it skier responcibility to to accept the risk involved while skiing a run that was deemed safe enough to be open, or is it the responcibility of the area ski patrol to know that the base was deteriorating to the point of instability?

Should the experienced skier who stated that the snow didn't feel right have reported this to the ski patrol?
post #26 of 60
Lars

I ski closed trails often. In the East it's different because there is no avalanche risk. There are risks though and you have to be careful and try to understand what you are getting into. Going into closed woods can be dangerous with firm conditions underneath. At the same time that could be the best skiing on the mountain. I find too many closed trails these days. It's more a matter of liability than safety.

Plenty of people have died on open trails. This avalanche was a fluke. I'm sure this skier evaluated the risks before he committed to his line.

Skiing is a dangerous sport anyway you cut it. It is a sport of risk management. When we make a mistake it doesn't usually cost a life. Safety is a huge part of my experience, but I still take risks. I have found over the years that just getting to the mountain can be risky.
post #27 of 60
PJ, It was reported that the run was open, i guess, maybe it wasn't.Looks like the news media out there can't get the facts straight. I would say though, we have a report from this forum that it was open.

I have a habit of saying what I feel and not thinking about it for a long time before I do. If I was a little calous in my post, then I can accept being "chided" as Rusty said.
I still stand by my statement.

Not to take away from the original discussion about the avalanche, but I would like to go on about closed runs.

I patrolled at an Eastern resort for ten years, both as a ski patrol and a safety patrol. Itwas our responsibility to open runs and close them as conditions allowed. If that ment closing a run half way through the day, we did it. It also depended on what the resort wanted. If they told us they had a limited staff that day and expected a low skier turn out, then they basically told us what runs to open and close, lifts etc. This sometimes left runs that were absolutely skiable, closed. Should people be skiing them? No. Why, the biggest reason being the closed trails would not be patrolled. Therefore if a skier was skiing a closed trail and got hurt, no one would find him to give aid. That's the main reason for not skiing a closed run. You might lay there for hours or days before being found. Especially in the big resorts out West. Sometimes they are closed because of hazzards, low snowpack, rocks etc. Skiing a closed run not only puts you at risk but also puts at risk those who have to come rescue you. Now you're putting me at risk andI take offense to that. For that you would be giving me your day pass and even your season pass. Not fair? Hey, out west, you could be giving up your life. Is it worth it?

Getting back to the point, as I said I was responding to the report that the run was open.
post #28 of 60
Back to A-Basin, I have skied A-Basin every year late in the season for the last 19 years. The snow is typically funky in the afternoon. This year the steep runs were open longer than in the last 5 or 6 years during the drought. This year is more typical for late season. What is different is how fast conditions changed (or at least my perception of change). Typically the resort closes Pali in the afternoon when the snow gets too soft to support your weight. My friend left Thursday when the snow got like this not because he was worried about the safety of the run but because the snow conditions were too difficult for his ability which is exactly what the responsibility of the individual skier should be. He told me Pali was in great shape Thursday and he had some of the best slush bump skiing in years. The real question is, what was different this year from the last 30 or more years that caused the run to slide? I'm sure the experts are working on this. It dosen't do any good to second guess decisions made by the unfortunate skier or the resort operators in this case. A-Basin has a stellar record of keeping the resort safe, open later than any other resort in CO, and dealing with wierd late season snow. As far Lars comment about skiing closed runs I agree entirely. An Individuals choice should not put other people at risk just because that individual is willing to take an additional risk by say, skiing a closed run.
post #29 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcahill
had some of the best slush bump skiing in years. The real question is, what was different this year from the last 30 or more years that caused the run to slide? I'm sure the experts are working on this. It dosen't do any good to second guess decisions made by the unfortunate skier or the resort operators in this case.
We've had an exceptionally warm week. Previous to this we were in a normal freeze-thaw cycle. It was still snowing up till May 13th. Then starting early in the week the temps starting getting up there. By Wednesday I know it was about 75 - which is the warmest day I can remember in May in about 5 years. It was 75 on Thursday and Friday too and the nighttime temps never got below freezing. That's why I mentioned it in my first post - it's very unusual and must have been a factor.

We've been getting some odd slides. Last night I drove over Fremont Pass and noticed a bunch of slides on western facing slopes. One near Mayflower Gulch is a popular backcountry destination.

As far as the resort goes, I would consider any of the Alleys fairly safe places on the Pali side. If Pali was running, I wouldn't even think twice about skiing 2nd Alley. Other things over there would raise my caution flag first (cornice off the bowl, the steep pitches under the chair, etc).

I wonder how this will affect future A-Basin operations. They've always been paranoid about opening the East Wall, I wonder how much more cautious they'll be now. Operations were planned to start in Zuma Bowl and I wonder if those will continue.
post #30 of 60
Lars,

I understand your point but I try to find the best skiing I can and still get away with it. As I get older I am less likely to poach, but I do still get sneaky from time to time.

One time I was skiing on the best trail of the mt on a bright blue sky day. We had taken about ten runs on this open trail. We skied in at 3:00pm and it was closed. I was outraged (over reaction) and told everyone it would be ok. Needless to say we all lost our tickets. I made a big fuss and blamed everyone else. We all skied down to call it quits and I snuck one more run in down the same dam trail.

Driving all the way to Jay Peak only to be told "stay out of the woods" just doesn't sit well with me. I preferr to make that call. The question needs to be asked - "why is it closed".
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