Change of plans…rider didn’t intend on climbing…chose not to wear beacon…now what?Pretty freaky. Despite a few broken shovels, poor quality probes and some unequipped riders, this group from Utah worked very hard and successfully delegated searchers to locate a rider with no beacon.
Very lucky recovery. According to the latest Canadian stats there is only a ~25% chance of a successful recovery for a person that is buried for 25 minutes.
Everything happens fast on a sled. We have to think faster than our track!
It is so easy to let our guard down…it happens all the time and usually we get away with it…but sometimes we don’t.
The sledders that are interviewed in this clip remind us that no one plans to be in an accident…keep the odds in your favor and always ride prepared (training and gear) and alert.
Demand the same from your riding partners.
Remember that recent avalanches are Warning Signs
THAT MUST NOT BE IGNORED!
Don’t get me wrong. Lots of things were done right by this group: one on the slope at a time, spotting from a safe location, multiple spotters with gear and training, quick, decisive rescue actions with great communication and delegation, but it looks like a recent avalanche to the viewer’s right. Were there other signs? Would a decision system, such as the AVALUATOR2 have avoided this close call?
Be alert to the snowpack around you and under your feet.
It doesn’t take much time to stop and really scour the slopes within visual range. Even if you are not planning to ride in these areas, look in the runout zones as well as the start zones for signs of recent avalanches. These areas might be similar to the slopes you are headed to.
In most avalanche involvements – obvious signs of instability were missed or dismissed by the group.
Learn how to dig a quick test pit.
Hunt for the problem layers identified in the Avalanche Forecast.
It doesn’t take long to see how the snow reacts to Compression Tests or Extended Column tests.
Of course, a pit is just one observation giving you a general indication of the layering…always make decisions based on a variety of observations.
Forecasters with the Utah Avalanche Center explain their findings from a fracture line snowpit at the accident site.
CLICK HERE to view a VIDEO CLIP posted by the Utah Avalanche Center, March 4, 2012
Their comments about an avalanche path reloading on the old bed surface can happen with other weak layers as well. The weakness in this case in Utah was badly faceted/depth hoar crystals (think sugar snow) at the bottom of the snowpack. Generally the base this season (2011-12) in the Canadian mountains (where snowmobiling is allowed) is more stable than this, however in many regions there are layers from mid-February that are capable of reloading.
During our AST1 Field Session in Valemount late February we observed a nasty surface hoar layer sitting on a thin sun crust. Not a nice combo.
The key is top notch group management and situational awareness by ALL MEMBERS of your group. Not sure what we mean by this…get yourself into an AST1 OR 2 class ASAP!
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