or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Patrol Shack › Tragedy at Mammoth (CA)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Tragedy at Mammoth (CA)

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
post #2 of 32
I don't know what to say, that just really sucks.
post #3 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by yelloboy
A few more details here http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...home-headlines
post #4 of 32
post #5 of 32
My wife and I love Mammoth. We were fortunate enough to have skied there last Sunday. Our heartfelt condolencenses to the family of the ski patrol that have passed. A great deal of thanks to those who have given their lives to protect me and my wife as we ski at that most beautiful mnt.

If there is a fund being estableshed for the family, please email us and we will contribute.

Our deepest sympathies.

Mark and Cheryl
post #6 of 32
another sad day in a year that has seen alot of tragedies involving sierra's snow. condolences...
post #7 of 32
this put a somber day on the mountain for us. I am at Mammoth skiing Wed-Fri. It's a sad day here at Mammoth.

DC
post #8 of 32
Patrollers do dangerous work for modest compensation, work that keeps others safe and saves lives. This event reinforces my appreciation of everyone who does the job.

Thank you.
post #9 of 32
What a horrible tragedy. My condolences to the family and friends of all three. Please keep us posted on any memorial funds.

I would also like to express my heartfelt thanks as well to every patroller, pro and volunteer, out there. They work early mornings, late afternoons, juggle all sorts of competing interests, have to be diplomatic to a lot of slobs and jerks, and often get little in the way of pay or appreciation in return.

Without them, our sport would not exist.
post #10 of 32
This is horrible. I don't even know that you would call it a skiing accident. It hardly matters. We have had more fatalities on the slopes and backcountry here this year, than I ever remember. News reports have finally identified the ski patrollers killed in this accident. Sincere condolences to the families and friends of these good men.

Quote:
The victims were identified Friday as Charles Walter Rosenthal, 58, of Sunnyslopes; John Scott McAndrews, 37, of Bishop; and James Jinkuk Juarez, 35, of the Los Angeles suburb of Granada Hills.


Rosenthal worked at the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Laboratory in Mammoth Lakes and was a researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said UCSB spokesman Paul Desruisseaux. He was an expert in snow hydrology and was identified as the snow and avalanche analyst for Mammoth Mountain.
post #11 of 32
Was the best of times and the wosrt of times on Mammoth Mountain yesterday. To our friends who are now gone, RIP.

We miss you guy's allready!
post #12 of 32

Please Read This!

There are a few more details below:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...home-headlines

I don't want to come off too harsh because this is a tragedy and lives were lost. But we have to learn from this.

A qoute from the article:

>>
Seeing his colleagues in danger, Charles Rosenthal, 58, of Sunny Slopes, Calif., a veteran of the ski patrol since 1972, went into the pit. He carried oxygen tanks for each of his friends, but wore none himself.

"He too was overcome," said Gregory.

Gregory said Rosenthal moved into the area "without regard for his own life…it was truly a poignant human tragedy."

At that point, a fourth ski patroller, Jeff Bridges, 51, went into the hole, using an oxygen tank. He too was quickly overcome.

Finally, an unidentified patroller, attached to a rope, went in without oxygen and pulled Bridges to safety.

A succession of ski patrol members tried to help throughout the ordeal. Seven were hospitalized as a result.

>>

It seems that after the two patroller's fell in, there was at least 3 THREE!!! patrollers that went into the hole UNPREPARED to deal with the situation. One of them didn't make it out alive, and the other two are in the hospital.

In the article it says that the first patroller went in "without regard for his own life..." This is a shame. He not only cost his own life, but that of his rescuers that now have three people to look for.

Please remember the order in which rescue goes. You can not rescue someone if you need rescuing yourself.
post #13 of 32
Its not too harsh. I trained and worked as an emergency responder; and any firefighter will tell you this is a classic setup for multiple deaths, with the rescuer becoming victim. The only suitable rescue gear would have included positve pressure SCBA gear. The MMF fumerole spews 98.7% pure CO2 gas and 0.6% oxygen. It is monitored by USGS and others with records going back to at least 1982 (see link). The lethality of the CO2, which is heavier than air, and the hazard to employees created by the confined space (21 foot pit) within the melted snow, would seem foreseeble, although the gas is easily dispersed in summer. Unfortunately, it seems certain we will continue to hear of this sad event for a long time to come. You can be sure the safety program will be revised.

Ironically, the same cause of death as avalanche burial.
post #14 of 32
This is so sad and such a tragedy. My condolences to the friends and family of the patrollers who died.

While the patrollers were aware of the potential dangers from the fumarole, it sounds like they never trained for a rescue of this nature. I can't say I'm too surprised by that, because it's a rather bizarre set of circumstances. Does anyone know whether anyone has ever fallen into one of these vents or pits before?

Thatsagirl
post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzlyFD
There are a few more details below:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...home-headlines

I don't want to come off too harsh because this is a tragedy and lives were lost. But we have to learn from this.

A qoute from the article:

>>
Seeing his colleagues in danger, Charles Rosenthal, 58, of Sunny Slopes, Calif., a veteran of the ski patrol since 1972, went into the pit. He carried oxygen tanks for each of his friends, but wore none himself.

"He too was overcome," said Gregory.

Gregory said Rosenthal moved into the area "without regard for his own life…it was truly a poignant human tragedy."

At that point, a fourth ski patroller, Jeff Bridges, 51, went into the hole, using an oxygen tank. He too was quickly overcome.

Finally, an unidentified patroller, attached to a rope, went in without oxygen and pulled Bridges to safety.

A succession of ski patrol members tried to help throughout the ordeal. Seven were hospitalized as a result.

>>

It seems that after the two patroller's fell in, there was at least 3 THREE!!! patrollers that went into the hole UNPREPARED to deal with the situation. One of them didn't make it out alive, and the other two are in the hospital.

In the article it says that the first patroller went in "without regard for his own life..." This is a shame. He not only cost his own life, but that of his rescuers that now have three people to look for.

Please remember the order in which rescue goes. You can not rescue someone if you need rescuing yourself.

You could just about say the same thing about Doug Coombs' death as well...I don't think if he was thinking straight that he would've put himself into such a compromising position that it cost him his life. Another one of my ski heroes dies stupidly and you could almost say it wasn't even a real skiing accident. I'm very sad considering he was an inspiration to me since I was 15, but at the same time I'm angry at him for putting himself into that situation.

When will the tragedies, which are totally avoidable, stop? These guys (including Coombs) are pros, but I think when it's one of their own they think emotionally rather than logically and that's when they get into trouble.
post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thatsagirl
Does anyone know whether anyone has ever fallen into one of these vents or pits before?
I remember reading about a cross country skier who did this while I was surfing this story, but can't find it now. Something about 5 days before succumbing to the gas.

I did find this story.
post #17 of 32
Word is coming in of a death at Heavenly today.
post #18 of 32

Memorial Funds

Here is some informaiton on three memorial funds that have been established

http://www.mammothmountain.com/memorial/
post #19 of 32
I received permission from Mammoth Ski Patrol to post the info directly here.

So,

Many of you and many of our guests have asked about a Memorial Fund for the Ski Patrol? Mammoth Mountain Ski Area has established memorial funds for the three Ski Patrollers who died on April 6, 2006. Three individual funds have been established at Union Bank of Mammoth Lakes in each persons name; The Scott McAndrews Fund, The Walter Rosenthal Fund, and The James Juarez Fund.

If you wish to donate to any of the funds, you may send a check addressed to the fund of your choice to Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol, Director, Bobby Hoyt, PO Box 24, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546. Contributions may also be delivered directly to Union Bank, or mailed to Union Bank, PO Box 2729, Mammoth Lakes, California 93546.

This information is also available on the mammothmountain.com website. Please pass this along to anyone who may be interested.

Thank you,


Jack Copeland
Vice President, Human Resources
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
PO Box 24
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
jcopeland at mammoth-mtn dot com
post #20 of 32

sad but ...

These three were on the leading edge of the learning curve, or the training had gone by the wayside.

There but for fortune go you or I.

..
post #21 of 32
TheRusty, thanks for posting that link in answer to my question. Very interesting and informative. Perhaps awareness is the key so people will be cautious, but it still sounds like it's not something that can be foreseen in many cases. It's just Mother Nature doing her thing.

Thatsagirl
post #22 of 32
post #23 of 32
From what I can glean from the links and the information within, this was quite possibly/probably, not an "Act of God".

It does sound like a preventable accident. The conditions, it sounded like they and the accompanying hazard were known. It sounds like there are training and equipment issues.

What will be determined by OSHA, is to what degree and if violations were present. It sounds like the fumarole and the gasses associated with them were know and common to the mountain.

Three die with the hopes that thirty more don't follow.
post #24 of 32
Reading that the thing vents 6 tons of gas per day was quite a shocker. It's possible that the snow cave was a result of an abnormally large venting. In hindsight, it is clear the tragedy was preventable. But it is also possible that REASONABLE precautions were being taken with the information that was available. If the snow cave was usually 10 feet big and the fence was 50 feet away, it's easy to see why people could think that risks were minimized. Lots of people die from bad information (e.g. snow cave never bigger than 10 feet).

Regardless of the investigation, it would appear that going forward, there are several changes that could be made. Downslope monitoring of CO2 above and below the snow surface might prove interesting. Increasing the size of the fenced off area is one obvious approach, but probably won't be effective as a single measure. The use of probe poles (to check snow depth) during the approach to the fence and to check the perimeter of the fence would be advisible. Of some concern is that one of the dead was reportedly equipped with oxygen. Whatever failed there needs to be addressed. Whether the safety protocol needs to be modified to cover being roped and maintaining a minimum separation distance is something that will probably be looked at. It's also a safe bet that the patrol staff will be increasing training for crevasse rescue techniques and treatment for CO2 poisoning.

I think the biggest question to be asked is whether or not it is worth it to attempt to facilitate gas dispersal during the winter. Dispersing the gas could minimize snow cave creation. It might be possible to build a structure over the fumarole that would prevent it from becoming snow covered and could faciltate gas dispersal (e.g. via fans). A low tech alternative similar to Radon remediation might be more feasible (e.g. wait till it's snow covered and a cave has formed, then drill PVC pipe into it and hook up a Radon type fan).

Finally, what we have not seen is what activities are performed to check for new fumaroles. It appears that two other locations were detected by tree kills. It would be sad if another fumarole formed on the slopes and remained undetected until another tragedy occurred. Then we'd have to have this discussion all over again.
post #25 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrizzlyFD
There are a few more details below:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...home-headlines

I don't want to come off too harsh because this is a tragedy and lives were lost. But we have to learn from this.

A qoute from the article:

>>
Seeing his colleagues in danger, Charles Rosenthal, 58, of Sunny Slopes, Calif., a veteran of the ski patrol since 1972, went into the pit. He carried oxygen tanks for each of his friends, but wore none himself.

"He too was overcome," said Gregory.

Gregory said Rosenthal moved into the area "without regard for his own life…it was truly a poignant human tragedy."

At that point, a fourth ski patroller, Jeff Bridges, 51, went into the hole, using an oxygen tank. He too was quickly overcome.

Finally, an unidentified patroller, attached to a rope, went in without oxygen and pulled Bridges to safety.

A succession of ski patrol members tried to help throughout the ordeal. Seven were hospitalized as a result.

>>

It seems that after the two patroller's fell in, there was at least 3 THREE!!! patrollers that went into the hole UNPREPARED to deal with the situation. One of them didn't make it out alive, and the other two are in the hospital.

In the article it says that the first patroller went in "without regard for his own life..." This is a shame. He not only cost his own life, but that of his rescuers that now have three people to look for.

Please remember the order in which rescue goes. You can not rescue someone if you need rescuing yourself.
Well, the immediate chaos that followed I'm sure affected their judgment. But initially, the patrollers thought that the FALL is what caused the injuries. They werent' even thinking about the gasses. I know of guys (patrollers and instructors, as well as yahoos like myself) who have crawled into those vents just for the sake of going in. You can actually get down in there really deep. I'm sure we'll all be rethinking our decisions in that area from now on.

This is really a tragedy on so many levels. The poignancy and irony is just amazing.

Walter (Charles), was actually done with patrolling for the season. He was starting a 3 year gig with a foundation he started and he was going back to work on his Doctorate (I believe. He was an expert in snow and avalanche conditions). We had spoken about skiing Hole In the Wall, but he said he wasn't going to be able to do it because he was leaving the week before. He only came back to help out, because Mammoth got something like 52" in two days.

And Jamey was the boyfriend of Johanna Carlsson, the patroller who lost her life in an avalanche up there in Feb.

Scotty just joined the patrol family this season, and he was voted "Rookie of the Year" just days prior to the tragedy.

Truly sad stuff.
post #26 of 32
It's a sad story no doubt , the loss of part of a group is going to be tough on that patrol hut. They obviously had a knowledge of these vents or they would not have attempted to clear them but I wonder if the patrols are trained in this capacity or is it something that has become part of the job.
I have been in situations that involve H2S and there is are no second chances , unfortunatly the decisions they made were wrong .
As for the areas resposibilty I would bet that there will be some big changes on how this job is done and who does it , patrols don't get paid enough to die just so we can ski.
post #27 of 32
First Change = Massive Fencing and a closed run.

post #28 of 32
Wow, that is quite a change from a singlerope and a few bamboo stakes a few feet away from the fumerole. It looks like the bottom half of the China Bowl is roped off now.
post #29 of 32
We had our resort staff end of year party tonight, and they set up a table with photos and bios, for people to donate to the Mammoth patrollers fund.
post #30 of 32
Ant, that was so thoughtful. I'm sure it will be greatly appreciated.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Patrol Shack
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Patrol Shack › Tragedy at Mammoth (CA)