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First tragedy of the season

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
A skier from Coquitlam BC who was unfamiliar with the backcountry near Baker skied off a small cornice, landed upside down and was buried in a blizzard two days ago. He was found yesterday afternoon. This guy was less than 1/4 mile out of bounds, on a popular route. He took a wrong turn, and his wife didn't see where he went.

Rest in Peace, fellow.

Be careful out there.
post #2 of 20
 I was at Baker at the time this happened.  Awful weather, and not a good time to be OB.  Visibility was limited with snow, fog, and howling wind.

We seem to loose people yearly.  It makes me sick every time.
post #3 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by iWill View Post


Rest in Peace, fellow.
 
+2
post #4 of 20
100,000 people dying in the tsunami in Thailand is a tragedy.  2000 people dying in the New Orleans hurricane is a tragedy. 9/11 was a tragedy.  One guy dying upside down in the snow is not a tragedy.  Unfortunate mishap, yes, tragedy, no. 
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos View Post

100,000 people dying in the tsunami in Thailand is a tragedy.  2000 people dying in the New Orleans hurricane is a tragedy. 9/11 was a tragedy.  One guy dying upside down in the snow is not a tragedy.  Unfortunate mishap, yes, tragedy, no. 
Tragedy- a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair;
No it does not compare to those, but it is a tragedy none-the-less
post #6 of 20
 It saddens me every time I hear of something like this.  
Thoughts and prayers to his wife and family.
post #7 of 20
RIP.

Class act, Chaos.  Please start another thread in which you propose a minimum body count and maximum indicia of volition to qualify for description as tragedy.
post #8 of 20
 
I guarantee it was a tragedy to all who knew him.
 
post #9 of 20
Tell his wife that.  I'm sure she'll agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos View Post

100,000 people dying in the tsunami in Thailand is a tragedy.  2000 people dying in the New Orleans hurricane is a tragedy. 9/11 was a tragedy.  One guy dying upside down in the snow is not a tragedy.  Unfortunate mishap, yes, tragedy, no. 
post #10 of 20
yeah, it's different when you're skiing there and it happens. I was skiing on my own one stormy day and noticed that everyone was leaving. the hill was getting empty and no one in line. I went back toward the center of the resort and learned that we had "....lost one of our own." no one felt like ripping lines and yucking it up and some quit out of a kind of respect.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos View Post

100,000 people dying in the tsunami in Thailand is a tragedy.  2000 people dying in the New Orleans hurricane is a tragedy. 9/11 was a tragedy.  Chaos dying upside down in the snow is not a tragedy.  Unfortunate mishap, yes, tragedy, no. 
Fixed it for you
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post



Fixed it for you
 

post #13 of 20
Atleast he died doing something he loved... how lucky.
post #14 of 20
Did the hitting his head kill him, or did he suffocate because was he unable to extricate himself from the post hole he dug?  How small a cornice?  Why did he end up upside down? 
I'm not just morbidly curious, I want to avoid doing same.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

Did the hitting his head kill him, or did he suffocate because was he unable to extricate himself from the post hole he dug?  How small a cornice?  Why did he end up upside down? 
I'm not just morbidly curious, I want to avoid doing same.
Go here for as much of the story as is known by the public:
http://www.bellinghamherald.com/latestheadlines/story/1162942.html
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
I can fill in some of the gaps. The area he died did not have any exposed rocks and the snow was unconsolidated. During the last 2 weeks over 150" have fallen, with no consolidation events (warming, rain, dry periods) between fronts. I put in the skin track on that route twice during the early parts of the cycle, and was battling waist high drifts both times. That location does not truly support a cornice per se, but drifts can get serious. The side he went down was downwind, and loads heavily.

Several times during the past week I've lost flotation from hitting loose pockets, causing a ski to dive and throw me forward. Despite packing a 110 ski, I was digging up to 40" to retrieve my ski. I opted not to go up on Sunday, as the temperatures were rising from 23F to 33F with heavy snow, fog and wind forecast. With a foot of heavy snow over 10 feet of lighter snow and no bottom, it is exceedingly difficult to extricate yourself.

Several years ago I hucked off a small cliff in that area in similar conditions. We had gotten over 60" in 3 days. When I landed, the snow from the top of the rock hit me from behind - just a sluff - but it toppled me and buried me face down up to my knees. Had I been alone, I would likely have become a statistic.

On Friday the visibility on that ridge dropped down to nothing. Skiing down was a slow cautious affair; when all is white, it is impossible to tell if the slope is up, down or even; despite the fact that I have been out there literally hundreds of times. Saturday improved, but Sunday dropped back to zero. The visibility is worse there than in the area due to the funnelling of clouds through the lowest gap between 9,000 Shuksan and 10,000 Baker. Even a few hundred yards can be a big difference there. 

 

So, the stage was set for a non-treewell NARSID (Non Avalanche Related Snow Immersion Death). While that has not been reported, it has all the classic symptoms. Go to http://treewelldeepsnowsafety.com for more education on these types of fatalities.

So, to avoid doing the same - KNOW YOUR LIMITS. Do NOT venture into the backcountry on a zero visibility day in an area you are not familiar with, during high avalanche danger, during high NARSID potential events unless you are damn sure you know what you are doing. Have a partner, or better yet 3. A party of 4 is a full magnitude safer than 2 in these conditions. Keep your partner in sight and question every thing you do.

Have you ever watched the old Klondike movies, where everything is howling winds, blowing snow and sure death if you wander out of the cabin? Treat the wilderness that way, because that is what it is...even if you venture into it only a few hundred yards.
post #17 of 20
Well, Shit happens.
post #18 of 20
If someone could learn from this, respect to the skier, it is that in very deep or bottomless snow you can suffocate just tipping down the fall line. It is a real project to extricate oneself from that position. And for someone to rescue that person, he would have to be above him when he was needed, as you can make zero uphill progress in that type of snow. complicated, and it can happen so easily.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

......Why did he end up upside down? ......

 
That's funny you'd ask that.
post #19 of 20
 What really pisses me off about this, is that this happens every year in the EXACT SAME AREA.

Every year we either have a fatality or a very close call in this exact same area.  In fact I see way more people in that zone with out any BC gear or a clue, and it is also statistically the most dangerous zone at Baker.

Just because you are only a few hundred yards from a ski area boundary you are not safe.

Common sense, and having respect for the mountains is all it takes to stay safe. 

Sure it sucks that the guy died, but shit, given the forecast and conditions from the past week you would have to been an idiot to be out there in the first place especially if you did not know the area.
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rise To The Top View Post

Atleast he died doing something he loved... how lucky.
 


May we all be this lucky...

(Personally I hope to "get lucky" like this and ski off a cornice when I am about 92)
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