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Avalanche Record

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Man, this is depressing.

What is causing all of these avalanches? Is it the early season base layer of snow?

Mrs. Zoo is threatening confinement of my skiing activity.

What to do? On piste - Beacon? Avalung?

http://www.avalanche.org/av-reports/index.html

http://www.tetonat.com/archives/672/...untain-resort/
post #2 of 28
There are eight snowmobilers missing and presumed dead near Fernie. A number of my friends are off looking for the bodies

The local snomo club is a good group, and have been a big help to our Nordic ski club.

Add to that two snomobilers in Utah, two in Colorado, and three inbounds avy deaths at ski areas.

This is really a time to stay very careful, maybe work on carving the groomers.

Check out this story....the group was very conservative, did everything perfectly, and the guy barely survived.

http://www.sltrib.com/arts/ci_11320313
post #3 of 28
The description I heard of the snow this year is, Plywood on Ball bearings.

The national news said that there were 4 confirmed skier deaths and 2 confirmed snowmobiler deaths in the US this year, and its not even January.

I'm not so anxious that I'll stop skiing, but I'm definitely thinking about boning up on avalanche education, and perhaps investing in a beacon, just in case I'm on vacation in an area that is risky.
post #4 of 28
Apprently the headwall slid at JH this morning, causing damage to the restaurant and burying the patrol shack.
They weren't opened for the day yet and it appears that everyone is okay.
I don't know this guy but his blog spot seems to follow JH
http://bkrugh.blogspot.com/2008/12/j...avalanche.html
post #5 of 28
[quote=Trekchick;1026039]The description I heard of the snow this year is, Plywood on Ball bearings.

The national news said that there were 4 confirmed skier deaths and 2 confirmed snowmobiler deaths in the US this year, and its not even January.
quote]
I think the 4th confirmed skier death was the non-avalanche death at Whistler; while the other 3 involved inbounds avalanches.
post #6 of 28
Phlogiston, you are probably correct in the 4th incident. I was only half paying attention to the news and half paying attention to my lunch.
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
Ms. Zoo called me here at work, to tell me about the snowmobilers, Newfy. Really, a big bummer.

My brother was a big Snowmobiler in WY. He stepped off his snowmobile once to pee, and sank in the snow. He said the snowmobile was above his head, out of his reach. He decided he didn't have to pee any more.

Ms. Zoo hasn't been on skis, out west, for 2 seasons, since we had a baby.

Now I'm a Daddy, trying to get the family 'into it'.

TC, I'm going to take a course on AVI awareness with the Mrs.

I've seen some really big slides (afterward). Anyone one that has, knows they command respect.
post #8 of 28
[quote=Phlogiston;1026044]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
The description I heard of the snow this year is, Plywood on Ball bearings.

The national news said that there were 4 confirmed skier deaths and 2 confirmed snowmobiler deaths in the US this year, and its not even January.
quote]
I think the 4th confirmed skier death was the non-avalanche death at Whistler; while the other 3 involved inbounds avalanches.
Snowmobilers are having a rough week.

Two in Colorado:
http://www.9news.com/news/article.as...6726&catid=188

Two in Utah:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/...k6CeAD9598U782

A new one in Washington:
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/...avalanche.html

The eight near Fernie:
http://www.montrealgazette.com/Searc...182/story.html
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
There is a story in this link by Bruce Temper about what its like to be caught in an avalanche. It reminded me of the "plywood on ballbearings" description.

http://utahavalanchecenter.org/education/faq
post #10 of 28
I've tried to undo any confusion I may have caused.
This is what I've been able to learn:

On Dec. 14, Cory Brettmann, 52, a former Aspen ski patroller, died in an avalanche while backcountry skiing on Richmond Ridge, just south of Aspen Mountain.

Also on Dec. 14, skier Heather Gross was killed at Snowbird ski resort by an avalanche on Mt Baldy. Gross was found alive, but died later in the hospital.

On Dec. 25th, skier Randall Davis of Tahoe City died in an avalanche at Squaw Valley, in the Red Dog area.

On Dec 27th, David Nodine, 31, was skiing the Paintbrush, an expert trail, with a friend when an avalanche started. Rescuers found him after about six minutes, but he was buried for 10 minutes before they could uncover him.

In addition, one snowboarder and 5 snowmobilers have died in avalanches in the USA in Dec 2008.
These are all USA fatalities. Canada is not included.

11 Snowmobilers were struck by an avalanche in the Elk Valley of BC, near the town of Sparwood, 550 miles east of Vancouver. 3 escaped, 8 are reported still missing.
post #11 of 28
Here's yesterday's in Washington. Another one where beacons and partners were not enough:

Sheriff Frank Rogers says 24-year-old Joshua S. Peters of Colville was buried in snow about 4 p.m. Sunday in the Brown Bear Basin area near Harts Pass.

He was with three other experienced riders who had avalanche beacons and probes with them. They dug Peters out in about 15 minutes, but he had quit breathing and could not be revived.
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnnys Zoo View Post
There is a story in this link by Bruce Temper about what its like to be caught in an avalanche. It reminded me of the "plywood on ballbearings" description.

http://utahavalanchecenter.org/education/faq
That is a very good link. Thanks
post #13 of 28
Much of the west got the perfect conditions for avalanches this year. The mountains got early snows that went through numerous thaw/freeze cycles or were rained on. This created a hard, icy base. The next layer of snow was powder that was exposed to extreme arctic cold causing the snow flakes to fracture making it look and feel like granulated sugar. This created what basically is a layer of ice ball-bearings on top of the hard ice layer. After that a series of big dumps came in at moderate temperatures creating a heavy layer on top. The snows were also accompanied by winds which creates wind-loading which causes some areas on mountains to accumulate more snow and denser snow. Putting all that heavy snow on top of ball bearings on a hard surface is perfect conditions for avalanches.
post #14 of 28
depth hoar. forget not the depth hoar.
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rio View Post
Much of the west got the perfect conditions for avalanches this year. The mountains got early snows that went through numerous thaw/freeze cycles or were rained on. This created a hard, icy base. The next layer of snow was powder that was exposed to extreme arctic cold causing the snow flakes to fracture making it look and feel like granulated sugar. This created what basically is a layer of ice ball-bearings on top of the hard ice layer. After that a series of big dumps came in at moderate temperatures creating a heavy layer on top. The snows were also accompanied by winds which creates wind-loading which causes some areas on mountains to accumulate more snow and denser snow. Putting all that heavy snow on top of ball bearings on a hard surface is perfect conditions for avalanches.
Exactly right for Tahoe also. I would just add: as my a/c savvy buddies watched all this (base) develop through early December, they said that it (wrong temps, wrong progression) was going to suck big-time, and could well be a problem for the whole season as that deep hoar will remain as the foundation for all subsequent snowfall. so, heads up, and this year ski with a buddy when it dumps.
avi note: out here it doesn't take a full-on propagating avi to ruin your day. sluffs, pocket sluffs, gulley sluffs, and cliff-huck sluffs can so easily bury us, so we need to add that set of awareness to skiing big powder days. just saying in case it helps someone, someday.
post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hum, Depth Hoar....The name is appropriate.

http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/encycl...depth_hoar.htm
post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by comprex View Post
depth hoar. forget not the depth hoar.
Here on the east coast it's 'Def Ho'.
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
Apprently the headwall slid at JH this morning, causing damage to the restaurant and burying the patrol shack.
They weren't opened for the day yet and it appears that everyone is okay.
I don't know this guy but his blog spot seems to follow JH
http://bkrugh.blogspot.com/2008/12/j...avalanche.html
Evidently Cheyenne and Laramie bowl also broke loose this afternoon. A bad day (week?) at the big one.

Mike
post #19 of 28
Never trust a hoar!
post #20 of 28
I am a newb when it comes to backcountry and this is all pretty frightening.

I have a reservation for next week with the Park City Powder Cats for a day of cat skiing. Should I cancel? Or can I rely on them to make good choices concerning safety?
post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by prosen View Post
I am a newb when it comes to backcountry and this is all pretty frightening.

I have a reservation for next week with the Park City Powder Cats for a day of cat skiing. Should I cancel? Or can I rely on them to make good choices concerning safety?
Its a bad year and you should be very concerned. That said everyone has a different level of risk they are willing to take. I would definitely call to determine what they expect the risk level on your scheduled dates.

Backcountry Story that puts it into perspective
Joe and Tom meat up to do some backcountry skiing. Tom says, damn I forgot my shovel. Joe says, no problem here you can take mine.
post #22 of 28
I originally missed the report on the death of Cory Brettman; it happened on the same day as Heather Gross at Snowbird, and having occured in the back country, received much less publicity.
In my climbing days I would have thought the spot where Brettman was killed was safe, and would have traversed it without hesitation. He apparently felt the same way. Details here:
http://avalanche.state.co.us/pub/acc...20081214_aspen
post #23 of 28

Buy a Beacon

Buy a beacon!

Quote:
Originally Posted by prosen View Post
I am a newb when it comes to backcountry and this is all pretty frightening.

I have a reservation for next week with the Park City Powder Cats for a day of cat skiing. Should I cancel? Or can I rely on them to make good choices concerning safety?
post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by tetonpwdrjunkie View Post
Never trust a hoar!
Especially not one with depth!
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by prosen View Post
I am a newb when it comes to backcountry and this is all pretty frightening.

I have a reservation for next week with the Park City Powder Cats for a day of cat skiing. Should I cancel? Or can I rely on them to make good choices concerning safety?
I wouldn't buy a beacon just for this trip.....if they don't have one to put on you, you should run as fast as your feet can clomp away.

I would cancel, simply because they will find some excuse to put you on skis and take your money, but unless things suddenly get very stable, they won't be able to take you anywhere very interesting.
post #26 of 28
Good analysis, RIO. Add that the "plywood" on top of the ball bearings is now, in the PNW anyways, a ten foot thick slab. Forget the avi lung and beacon if you get below one of these monsters!

The warmer snow on top of the sugar layer will probably soon form a bridging layer that will seem safe for a few months. The problem will resurface in the spring when melt trickles down to and lubricates the early season layers at the botrtom of the pack.
post #27 of 28
At PCMR, the Jupiter chair has still not opened. Several of the faces have slid on their own. Very scary.
post #28 of 28
And just as the year ended, here's another in Washington...

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/...alanche01.html
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