How many times can I repost this stuff? well, here is my story of the two avy's with an added story of a scary experience. It all came from a thread about scary experiences while skiing. Enjoy, or something:
I’ll bite! I have a number of “scary”experiences but my two avys and one event this last year come to mind as memorable and, with respect to this year’s story, fresh.
I posted this before so the reference to Camille's story won't make sense but . . .
During the mid 1980’s I had the dubious distinction of being involved in two avi’s. The first was a mid size slab avalanche, which occurred on a small inbounds hill at what is now the Northwest Express lift area at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon. My brother and I skied up to the hill through some widely spaced Doug Fir trees, as we broke out of the trees and skied down the hill (not really steep, maybe 25 degrees), the entire face of the snow broke free. We rode the slab for a short while, and then broke through. We were lucky, and were able to ski out to the side/bottom through some trees, which were about 50 – 60 yards away. Total slab size was about 100’ x 100’ x 18” or so, and slid for more than 60 yards. The pucker factor was very big. No warning, not an area we were expecting an avy, and we could see the slab crack and slough off while we were on it.
(This story actually leaves out the fact that I was trapped in the avy but not buried. The reason this was “scary” is that once I broke through the snow, my forward momentum all but stopped. The snow behind me, however, did not stop. I could feel the snow pushing me forward and pilling up behind me. The snow was also pushing me face down into the snow in front of me. Worse yet the snow was moving quite slowly which made it a bit like a bad dream. I knew I would soon be buried but there was nothing I could do. Quite frightening. But lucky for me the slide ran out of steam before my head, or even my shoulders were buried. Still it took quite a while to dig out even with my brothers help. The “slow motion” effect made this avy more frightening than the avy in the next story.
The second was very similar to Camille Coyle’s story. Again the same Bro and I were skiing, this time at Mt. Hood Meadows. We were skiing inbounds during a weekday after quite a few days of heavy snowfall. We probably had 2’ or so of new snow. We had skied the front of the ski area and had taken a few runs down the Hood River Meadows lift area. It was just about last run and we expected to find little fresh snow on this lift but did expect to find some good fast groomers to finish the day. On Willow, however, we found nice, although tracked, powder. It looked like a dozen skiers had been through the area (which is short and not very large). On our second, and last run down Willow, we decided to ski the skiers left part of the face. The top of Willow has a flat spot that is not very wide, and as I skied up, I skied to a stop on the left section of the table. I was about 2’ from the edge and not quite stopped when a section of the table about 30’ x 10’ by 6’ deep collapsed. I just remember dropping 6’ hitting upright and being pushed into a steep and tight ravine. I flipped over and my left ski caught on willows in the ravine. As I flipped, I remembered an avy lecture I had once heard about making an air pocket, so I grabbed my jacket and pulled it over my mouth/face.
Some thoughts on avy snow: it is cold, you can’t move, it is dark, you can’t breathe (the snow filled into my air pocket but I was able to clear an airway with my hands which were by my face and my tongue), it is totally quiet.
I was lucky. I fell and was trapped in the top part of the slide, upside down, with my skis above me acting like an umbrella. The area I was in was very steep, probable more than 45 degrees but short, perhaps 30’. So while I was deeply buried, it was easy to uncover me. The area I was in also caused some problems, since the snow above me was not stable. I did not feel at all safe till I was out of the slide and down on flat ground. The tip of my right ski was out of the snow so I was immediately discovered by my bro. Unfortunately, he had already skied below me and had to hike up the 45-degree slope, through the 2’ of new to get into a position to rescue. It took him about 20 minutes to get into position and about 10 min to dig my face out (that was real time in avy time the whole thing took about two hours). We made last chair but had to explain what happened to the lifty.
Reasons for the avy: I don’t know, but here is what I think. The area had received substantial snow over the past few days. That area had received more than its fair share and because there were few skiers it had not been heavily tracked. The small area I chose to stand on was free of tracks. I suspect my added weight on the unconsolidated snow caused the top to slough off and pull a section of snow down the hill. The ravine was completely covered until the avy pushed the snow below out of the way.
This was a small slide, but if I had been alone I would have died in it. It was dark by the time we made the lift and no one would have found me till next day at the soonest. Good avy skills are a must, ski with a partner, practice avy skills and rescue techniques. And don’t forget avys can happen inbounds as well as out.
I burned up a lot of my luck on that one day. But better surviving an avy than the night before winning a hand at poker.
The following is one of those events that happens unexpectedly and leaves you filled with rotten adrenaline for hours, even though ultimately it was a non event.
Skiing the Northwest Express lift at Mt Bachelor this year I took one of the run outs, which I seldom if ever take. An explanation about Bachelor’s topography is in order. On the NW Express the top 1/3 of the mountain is quite steep, the middle is moderately steep and the bottom is quite flat. The mountain has an odd rolling or undulating slope here where there is a drop of perhaps 50' followed by 50' of flat. This repeats over and over down the mountain even on the flats.
This happened on the flats and I was cruising along very fast, perhaps at 40 miles per hour, laying down RR tracks with big long radius carves, pre-jumping the rollers, and overall just having fun. As I came off one roller on a section of flats I was unfamiliar with, I realized my pre-jump would land in the trough before the next roller, I would have a hard compression (the next roller actually was uphill) and I would only be able to partially pre-jump that roller. This meant I would probably catch quite a bit of air off the top. Usually this was no problem but I could see that there was an island of trees (large Doug firs) about 30' dead ahead. The human brain is really cool. But mine was calculating I would land smack in the middle of the trees at 40 mph or maybe 30 if I tried a full on hockey stop.
More or less every warning horn in my brain was going off and my adrenal gland was pouring adrenaline into my blood stream as if it had a 3" hose connected directly to my heart. Here I am, mid flight with my blood pressure and heart rate redlined and time at 1/10th speed wondering whether or not I will feel the impact with a tree, which weighs more than many houses. Lucky for me with time at 1/10 speed I actually had time to think. I realized my only hope was to deflect my course a few degrees to the right once I landed and then pre-jump the next roller and hope to land before the trees, which might give me enough room to start a Herminator style Super G carve to the right and out of danger.
The problem with time at 1/10 speed is that you still move at normal speed so after landing, and compressing, I eliminated the decompression and immediately went to the deflection carve. I was sure I was not going to make the pre-jump (which would have meant trees). Somehow I threw my arms forward and sucked up the legs into a pre-jump.
I made it. But I really don’t know how. I landed very long but the deflection carve changed my trajectory enough so I was able to land and power carve out of danger. We went in for lunch after that run - I was completely spent. Without all the adrenaline I would not have made it. With the adrenaline I was able to carve at the bottom of a hard compression and still suck up for a pre-jump.
Well, there are three stories each “scary” for a different reason and “scary” in a different way.