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Inbounds slide at A-Basin: 1 fatality - Page 2

post #31 of 60
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by paul jones
The question needs to be asked - "why is it closed".
No, the question that needs to be asked is why you think you're smarter than the people running the mountain.

Ever ski into the cable of a winch cat? Ever walk on the mountain in the summer and see the amount of deadfall? Do you know exactly how windloaded that foot of fresh snow is? Do you know what mountain operations are going on?

Here's a good example. This winter a mountain closed one of their bowls after it received a foot of fresh snow. Now, with this particular closure it was pretty easy to do since it just involved closing a lift and cutting off access. It had to be done because a very rare and unexpected mountain emergency happened that pulled all of the ski patrol from that duty station and relocated them all the way to the other side of the mountain. Had circumstances been just slightly different and someone ducked a rope into a closed area, no one would have been available to respond.

If you want to have out of bounds fun, go into the backcountry. Your tax dollars pay for it after all. If you don't think you have the skills to do that, then you don't have the skills to do it at the resort either.
post #32 of 60
PJ, My usual answer to that question would be, "I don't make the rules, I'm just here to enforce them and help out when needed." My other most likely answer would be "if I can't ski it, why the hell should you."

Really, with eastern Resorts it's more a matter of cut backs. Early season especially. It may be the case where the conditions are awesome but they expect a slow day and cut back on lift operators and staff to save some money. That was usually the case at H.V. Season pass holders would bitch like hell but it didn't do any good.

The most obvious reason for closing the trail was because we deemed it unsafe, thin cover, ice, snow making, etc.

We weren't even supposed to chase anybody down the run to catch them. we had ways to catch them cause we always knew the only way to hike out or ski to another lift.

It's different out at the Western resorts. Skiing a closed trail there could cost you yourlife or dander the lives of others whofollow fresh tracks, etc. Monkey see monkey do.

Anyhow, I am not a patroller anymore. Gave it up after ten years. But I do know and respect the dangers and the reasons trails are closed. I don't ski losed trails and neither should anyone else. If you do, expect to pay the consequences, and if it's just your pass, it's better than your life.

Next time before you drive all the way to Jay peak, call ahead and ask for the trail and ski report. If your favorite woods run isn't open, stay home.
post #33 of 60
I would like to say that ABasin is and always been one of my favorite ski areas in the USA. I skied there more than any other resort last season for that reason. I have skied Pali and the back country farther over, the Beave, and other lines. I've also hiked the East Wall chutes and skied many of the lines there. And I've always felt safe knowing that the Ski Patrol that works there are well trained and professional people.

There are going to be some hard questions that will have to be answered in the comming weeks about what happened and why weren't there any warning signs, and if there were, why weren't they noticed by someone in control?

So, what happened? ABasin sits in the middle of one of the most Avalanche prone areas in the Rockies. Shouldn't someone have read these deteriorating conditions?
post #34 of 60
I have heard and personally know someone woh ignored the closed signs, ducked under the ropes and died. Did a header off a jump in the closed unpatrolled area and sufocated. His friends who were still on top what he jumped of couldn't get to him in time. A boarder of course! 17 year old kid who was a talented baseball player. Really stupid!

There are plenty of open areas to ski, you must admit you are greatly increasing your chances of death or injury when you ignore the closed signs.

I refer back to my earlier post, is any one run worth risking the rest of your ski life?
post #35 of 60
Nice spring skiing at the Basin today, but the pall of Friday's avalanche is still palpable. The view of Pali as you round the bend in the road coming down from the Pass is really frightening.
The other amazing sight is driving over Loveland Pass. The entire cirque to the west is one wet slab release after another below the cornice. Dangerous conditions, to be sure, yet I still saw a couple of snowbarders coming out of the woods on my way down the pass in the afternoon. Despite the somewhat lower slide risk on that less steep slope, it makes you wonder about the endless stupidity of some people.

post #36 of 60

Do you realize that woods skiing in the East was not something people did back in the 70's. It took brave men (like me) to venture forth and open up this new terrain. Killington's woods skiing is a result of people who ventured into the woods - closed terrain, and eventually got the resort to realize it should be open. We are the pioneers.

Skiing in the West is another story, but I will say this: When I was at Whistler back in 1980 and 81, we had access to the lifts prior to opening. We grabbed all the powder we could get and it was foolish. The entire group knew nothing about avalanche safety and we were skiing in the most dangerous areas. The ski patrol had these long nose cannons that were used to trigger the slide. We were actually on the mountain during the blasting. We finally got caught and they were not happy! We found other bad behavior to keep us busy.

Like I said before, I'm too old to be breakin rules like in years past. Rules are there for a reason and people should show respect. I just hate to leave the powder for someone else. This is a topic for another thread, I suppose.
post #37 of 60
Originally Posted by paul jones

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".
There's a reason the trail is closed, and people who are obviously much more avy-savvy than you made the decision to close it. Can we take someone like you seriously who poaches closed trails because "I want to" and who admittedly doesn't know much about backcountry safety?
post #38 of 60
Originally Posted by paul jones

Do you realize that woods skiing in the East was not something people did back in the 70's.
Then I must be suffering from False Memory Syndrome.
post #39 of 60
Originally Posted by paul jones
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".
My question for you: Do you bother to ask anyone of authority "why is it closed" or do you decide for yourself that it must be for an inane reason and just ski it anyway?

Jay knows the biggest draw is the awesome wood skiing. When Jay closes woods, it's because it's downright dangerous. It's either sheer ice and people are having freak accidents even on the groomed runs (which is what we ran into this winter with that bizarre weather we had in January) or it's funky and punchy and you can have terrible accidents involving trees. Ever see someone who's been impaled by a tree branch? Ever see someone hanging upside down in a tree with a dislocated knee? Not pretty. And when patrollers find out you ducked the rope and they have to risk their lives to rescue you, including using crampons and ice picks to BELAY people out of the woods, which happened several times at Jay this winter....well, you explain your cavalier attitude then.

Sorry, you're attitude really ticks me off. You disregard the mountain's safety practices, but then will most likely expect someone to rescue you.

post #40 of 60
Thank you guys for roasting him. He deserves it with that defiant ignorant attitude!
post #41 of 60
Originally Posted by paul jones
Do you realize that woods skiing in the East was not something people did back in the 70's. It took brave men (like me) to venture forth and open up this new terrain. .
Oh really now? Hmmm. I guess some of the old timers I have spoken too were lying about skiing through the trees. That "brave men (like me)" bit is crap too!
Originally Posted by paul jones
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".
Maybe you should ask sometime. Thatsagirl is right on with her response. There are a lot of reasons you may not know for closing trails and areas. While you may not like it, you need to respect it.

Sometimes trails are closed because there is grooming taking place. Skiing down it could set yourself up for a collision with the groomer. Other times they are closed due to conditions. Sometimes things that you can not see may be a safety concern as well. Please pay attention to the postings, they are there because some safety issue exists.
post #42 of 60
Thatsagirl is correct, in that usually at Jay when the woods are closed there is a good reason for it. I know that Mad River makes a good call on their closures. I hope you all don't misunderstand me as a skier, I really don't go around skiing closed trails and poaching on a daily basis. But good skiers really did open up the terrain at Mad River. Until they pushed the envelope Paradise was not even a trail. Woods skiing was against the rules. It's not now, because of people who skied where they weren't supposed to ski.
post #43 of 60
Well, this is not how you came off in your other post. You came off as quite arrogant, in knowing more than area management and patrol about the safety of trails and woods that they have chosen to close. I apologize if I misinterpreted you, but obviously, I am not alone.

Skiing closed terrain is asking for trouble. Going into BW without the knowledge and against warnings of avalanche danger is also asking for trouble. Obviously, we have become sidetracked by this.

The original post we were all resopnding to was the report of the inbound slide at A-basin. From what I have heard it is safe to say that the poor soul who lost his life was skiing in-bounds on an open trail at the time of the avalanche. This makes his loss harder to accept. My condolences go out to his family.
post #44 of 60
Originally Posted by paul jones

Do you realize that woods skiing in the East was not something people did back in the 70's. It took brave men (like me) to venture forth and open up this new terrain.
I think we all owe this man a huge debt of gratitude for pioneering 'woods' skiing for all of us. Its visionaries like him that have moved this sport forward and opened our eyes to the limitless possibilities of terrain, dare I say 'woods', available to be skied in our fair land.

The entire Northeast may be stuck skiing tree-free runs to this day if it weren't for brave mavericks like this.
post #45 of 60
Thank you braun!

And teach is right about being off topic. I probably should have kept my mouth shut about skiing closed trails. Many of the guys I ski with are die hard poachers. That would not be me. I hope you know that I am kidding about being a brave man and pioneer. That is also not me. I do from time to time evaluate safety and loss of ticket at the top of a closed trail and then go for it. Sometimes it becomes apparent ..."now I see why this trail is closed." Then too, there are times that open trails should be closed (Ovation this past winter).

I do believe that woods skiing has opened up simply because the mt could not keep people out. Killington is a good example. That is my position. Demand pushed them to allow it. You may have a different position, that's fine. I don't know everything in fact my knowledge is limited.
post #46 of 60
I think(hope) that ebrauns' reply was firmly in cheek. It's pretty arrogant to asume that off piste skiing in the east evolved in the 70's. Stories abound of the early pioneers of skiing bushwacking throughout New England laying out what would become some of the classic trails, and this was done 30 and 40 years before you seemed to have ventured off the beaten path.
post #47 of 60
I was joking...does anyone honestly think that someone in 1970s New England was the first person to say "hey...those trees look a fun place to ski!?

I wonder who the pioneer was that opened up the Europeans to tree skiing? :

Sorry for the sarcasm.

This thread is really about the tragedy at A Basin. I think we should stay focused on that. Anytime someone dies at a ski resort I cringe.
post #48 of 60

spring slide

That was an amazing slide. The dynamics of a spring slide are something new to me. At Tuckerman's we have ice falls, but nothing of that scale. A-Basin looks like quite a mountain and I'd love to ski it someday. It looks like a difficult mountain.

I am sorry to have drawn the topic away from this tragedy. This man went for a day of skiing and died as a result. As much as we all evaluate the risks, most of us know that this sport is still dangerous. My sympathy to all who knew him.
post #49 of 60
just curious- is there a consensus as to whether the trail was still open? or had the rope been pulled ?
post #50 of 60

The trail was open.
post #51 of 60
I think it was heavily skied, ie. moguls. I didn't know skier compacted terrain could slide, but I'm not avy savvy by any means. I guess as Ott suggests, it slid on mud, a mudslide like those seen on the California coast except with a lot of snow on top. Maybe this kind of slide will become more common with climate changes (global warming), it seems it was very warm for days before the event, a lot of snow must have melted to make the ground that soft.

Tragic for that guy who must have thought that the skiing was as safe as ever with the added possibility of getting knocked down by sluff. Certainly he had no idea that an on open bump run would/could run to the ground! If he was enjoying wet bumps like I do, at least he was having huge fun when it happened. I guess that's the way I would like to go, but I don't want to die when I'm still able to do that and know I might get to do it again if I stay alive. Like A-man said, you don't want it to be your last run, no matter how good it is.

Paul and other poachers, I think skiing inbounds closed area is not too different from skiing OB. You need to take responsibilty, assume patrol will not find you unless your buddy goes for them. Also you are trespassing, ski area needs to press criminal charges and bill you for rescue to discourage this (where local ordinances allow such charges). The area is probably closed because there is some dangerous element (if only unmarked bare spots or even just icy if it's a glade or very steep.) The main reason to ski trees anyway is to ski better snow than what is found on the more heavily travelled runs. Skiing ice in the trees makes no sense to me. Be careful, don't ski closed areas. At least, don't ski unpatrolled areas with out a buddy and ski carefully there, look for hazards that might be the reason for the trail being closed. I only skied under ropes back east (and only a few times), I don't know enough to evaluate closed areas for avalanche risk, so I never skied closed areas in western mountains.
post #52 of 60
Thread Starter 

CAIC report

Here's the official dirt. Despite the date on the report, it wasn't posted until yesterday or today:
CAIC report

There's lots of stats at the bottom concerning avalanche deaths, including inbounds.
post #53 of 60
thanks Vinn-
as with most avi reports, it is chilling-- although I have to tell you that the incident that still shakes me the most is that poor kid riding a novice chair over at Las Vegas who got blown off the chair by the avi pressure wave- talk about minding your own business and having mama nature take you out.
post #54 of 60
There are a lot of spurious statements in this thread.

"Skiing a closed run is very dangerous". Do you have some data to back that statement up?

"9 times out of ten skier deaths are related to stupidity." Ditto.

"Should people be skiing them? No. Why, the biggest reason being the closed trails would not be patrolled." So, backcountry skiing should be banned?

"you must admit you are greatly increasing your chances of death or injury when you ignore the closed signs." Objection. Speculation.

"Also you are trespassing, ski area needs to press criminal charges and bill you for rescue to discourage this." In some areas this would be true, but you are generalizing. Ski areas (and states) have different rules about closures, including "soft closures" and "hard closures."

Reel in it a bit, guys.
post #55 of 60
I modified my post, Harry. I agree that skiing inbounds closures poses similar risks to skiing out of bounds. If you do it, you are on your own, and additional care should be taken. Also, I think it's wrong to break the rules. When you allow people to decide when it's ok to break rules, many bad behaviors are rationalized. That's why I think it's OK for ski area to charge violators when they feel it is necessary. I've skied under ropes, on one occasion it was the ski area manager holding it up for me and when a snowboarder followed us down the trail, he said nothing. I thought that was cool, I guess it depends, you need to clip tickets sometimes or the rope means nothing. Usually it is there for a good reason...
post #56 of 60
Thank you Harry,

I was getting so stressed that my hair was falling out.

Eastern skiing is not the same as Western skiing when it comes to some of the things I have said. For one, many of the closed trails were not even that long. I always try to ski with someone especially when ducking the line. In the East lots of people do it.
That doesn't make it right but you don't hear of many problems from this sort of thing.

Last season, not once did I have my ticket clipped. No one I know ever got hurt poaching. Yet sometimes when you do it you realize how stupid the idea was. Many times it's right under the lift where there is some terrain. When ski instructors do it they have to take off their jacket.

There have been some valid counter to my position and I do respect that. One has to remember that if a less experience skier sees you do it you may be a bad role model and put them at risk.

I hope every one knows that I was kidding about being a pioneer and brave. But Killington and elsewhere were influenced by people skiing out of bounds. Someone mentioned pioneers from Europe and the 30s and 40s. They really were brave but they never opened up the woods on the east coast.

I also think that skiing trees in the West is not like those in the East. In '75 Steamboat had open woods (I think they were open). We blasted down through the trees and deep powder. It was a great experience for a guy from the East. But there was so much space between the trees.

I try not to be an idiot when I drive, but let's face it most of us exceed the speed limit. We do it hopefully with caution and then accept the ticket when we get caught. You can get hurt real bad by the choices you make driving a car, so we try not to push the envelope too much.
post #57 of 60
Skiing in-bounds is no guarantor of absolute safety. I witnessed an avalance in-bounds at Alta once back in the 70's that I understood resulted in fatalities. A whole slope broke up into slabs in a wooded area near the bottom that was the last place you might've expected this to happen. We had been skiing by there all day and had seen evidence of charges the patrol had tossed in an effort to trigger a slide. Even with all the expertise and precautions available this happened. It seems to me that humility, not bravado, is called for, particulary among those who venture out-of bounds.
post #58 of 60
A sad day for everyone involved. Sorry for the family. A-Basin is my favorite of all Colorado areas.
post #59 of 60
Found this report on this sad topic here. The photos are very interesting, as is the analysis:

post #60 of 60
Thanks BigE.

What I found most interesting about the photos, was the impact that the avi control work had on the slope, which they did the day after the incident. It's lucky that whole thing didn't give out the day before and kill a lot of people.
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