Forum Index > Trail Talk > Silver Mtn., ID avalanche 1/7/2020
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jinx'sboy
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PostTue Jan 07, 2020 6:07 pm 
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Sounds like 6 caught, one fatality, minor injuries to 5 others rescued in an inbounds(?) avalanche.

https://www.krem.com/article/news/local/3-potential-avalanches-on-silver-mountain/293-47d47ab5-4154-4b63-bd42-938a37b0d497
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treeswarper
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PostTue Jan 07, 2020 7:08 pm 
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Yes, they were skiing in the ski area and the area was open.  Wonder if a lawsuit is in the future or if the small print on the lift ticket protects the resort?  We shall see.

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schifferj
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PostWed Jan 08, 2020 7:14 am 
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treeswarper wrote:
Yes, they were skiing in the ski area and the area was open.  Wonder if a lawsuit is in the future or if the small print on the lift ticket protects the resort?  We shall see.

Idaho law specifically states that avalanche is a risk assumed by skiers. Colorado state supreme court ruled that avalanches are an inherent risk of skiing. Washington law does not specifically mention avalanches. Lawyers being lawyers will likely attempt to instigate some lawsuits in this matter. I, for one, hope they are unsuccessful in this endeavor.

I was at Silver when this incident occurred and from my perspective the Ski Patrol did their due diligence. I think I have some experience in this arena as I was a patroller for 15 years, 10 of them at Silver Mountain and 5 at Vail.

This incident is being rehashed on social media and blame is already being informally assigned by a host of "experts" with lots of shoulda, coulda, woulda's.
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Schenk
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PostWed Jan 08, 2020 8:26 am 
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Rest in Peace Skiers, and may their families find Peace.

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treeswarper
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PostWed Jan 08, 2020 8:50 am 
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Another one died in the hospital.

https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2020/jan/07/avalanches-reported-at-silver-mountain-shoshone-co/

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schifferj
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PostWed Jan 08, 2020 10:28 am 
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Here's a copy of a letter from one of the persons that was rescued from the avalanche. Some pretty scary stuff in here.
01/07/2020
Personal Summery by Bill Fuzak
Avalanche burial at Silver Mountain Ski Area / Wardner Traverse / 16 to 1 run
On Tuesday Jan 7, 2020 around 11 AM I was involved in and consequently fully buried for approximately 50 minutes in an inbounds avalanche at Silver Mountain Ski and Snowboard Park. The avalanche occurred in a recently opened part of the ski area where over 20 inches of new snow had fallen in two days.
I was part of a group of 10+ skiers and boarders that had entered the Wardner Traverse area and started setting a ski packed path on the Traverse. We had been waiting for the rope to drop for the area and entered the traverse only after the closed sign had been removed and with a Silver Mountain Ski Patrol member giving the verbal ok to “start cutting the traverse ourselves or wait for a Ski Patroller to break trail on the traverse”. I personally heard the conversation with the 3 lead skiers and the patroller as I was the 4th person going out onto the newly cut traverse. Our understanding was avalanche mitigation with explosive charges had been completed off the top of Wardner Peak before skiers and boarders entered the then uncut traverse.
The going was slow and all but 6 or 7 riders of the original group dropped into glades prior to reaching the run named 16 to 1. The three lead skiers dropped in to ski the fresh snow about a third of the way across 16 to1. The rest of us, appx 4 or 5 people, dropped in closer to the tree edge. After only one or two turns the snow started to fracture above us as well as below us and the slide started to propagate and accelerate. I heard a female voice over my right shoulder, I think it was Rebecca, say calmly that “it’s giving way, try to stay on top”. I lost my left ski almost immediately and fell backwards while trying to release my right ski to no avail. A few seconds later while swimming to try and stay on top of the slide it slowed and pulled me down completely under the snow. As the moving snow ground to a halt and compressed around me I started punching upwards with my right fist to create an air hole above me. I was able to successfully reach the surface with my right fist and then started creating space around my mouth and face to get air. When I had air flowing unobstructed into the hole I had created I started waving my gloved hand out the air hole hoping someone would see me. I also shouted for help for several seconds before calming down. I was glad to have air and thought I had a good chance to be rescued.
Within seconds, another, more powerful slide hit and buried my breathing hole under what felt like feet of snow. I heard and felt the snow compress around me and I was unable to move anything but my right hand to clear my face and mouth. At this point I tried to calm my breathing and conserve air. I don’t know how long I stayed conscious after that. I had already relegated myself to the inevitable as I knew the air would not last long. I was in no pain and knew I wasn’t injured. I’m really surprised how calm I felt but knew there was nothing I could do but wait and pray.
The first thing I remember when coming back to consciousness was a group of rescuers cheering that a survivor had been located, me. I cannot express the surprise and relief I felt to hear and see other people digging me out. Ski patroller Bill held my hand and helped keep me calm as he and the others helped dig me out as I was buried upright in the deep snow. Apparently, my lips were blue when they unburied me and I was initially unconscious. My hands and feet were extremely cold but I was uninjured, breathing and moving well. I was elated to still be “here”. I was more than ready to get out of my encasement, afraid that a 3rd slide would bury me again. Bill asked me about other members of the party I was aware of. I thought there were at least 3 others buried in my general vicinity. I believe Ski Patroller Maya Pardue found me with her probe then other volunteers came over to help dig me out. Maya, thanks for sticking to it, finding me and consequently saving my life. I am eternally grateful to you and your group of patrollers.
During and after extrication Patroller Bill checked me over and concluded I was not severely injured. I was able to walk and with help load into a toboggan attached to a snowmobile. A snowmobile driver and Ski Patroller Bill transported me down to the snow cat maintenance facility to be checked out by local medical professionals and warmed up. I sat with and spoke with another rescued local skier named Ken who had also been buried for 50 minutes. He also survived by creating an air space and through the incredible efforts of Ski Patrol and other volunteers on scene. I was interviewed extensively by the Sheriff as well as the head of Silver Mountain Ski Patrol in the Ski patrol office.
I cannot give enough thanks and compliments for the effort shown by the Silver Mountain Ski Patrol, Search and Rescue volunteers as well as other skiers and riders that played a role in saving my life and the other riders lives. My family especially wants to thank them all for saving us. My heart goes out to the families of the two riders that did not survive.
Sincerely,
Bill Fuzak
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treeswarper
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PostWed Jan 08, 2020 12:14 pm 
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That is so scary to even think of, much less to go through.

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Stefan
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PostWed Jan 08, 2020 1:49 pm 
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Wow.

Peace to you schifferj.

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schifferj
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PostWed Jan 08, 2020 2:58 pm 
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Stefan wrote:
Wow.

Peace to you schifferj.

That wasn’t me in that avalanche thankfully. That letter was from one of the skiers to the ski patrol
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RichP
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PostThu Jan 09, 2020 8:28 am 
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The search continues for 1 missing.

https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2020/jan/08/day-after-deadly-avalanche-silver-mountain-resort-/
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Snowdog
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PostThu Jan 09, 2020 10:14 am 
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Schifferj- thank you for posting this 1st person account.  Sobering stuff.

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Brushwork
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PostThu Jan 09, 2020 8:43 pm 
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Wow, that’s a pretty lucky guy.  What a close call.  Really interesting and scary to read the story.  Thank you for sharing.

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RichP
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PostThu Jan 09, 2020 8:46 pm 
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They did recover 1 more victim today.  frown.gif
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gb
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 7:56 am 
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You may have to go back decades to see an inbounds accident in a ski area of this magnitude. 3 dead and burials to 9' with a described Class 4 avalanche - about the largest you could get on that slope.

As a skier in a ski area, you really don't expect even that possibility with control work and the volume of skiers these days. But the weather conditions leading to this were problematic.
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treeswarper
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PostFri Jan 10, 2020 8:00 am 
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Two Bear Air found the body using some kind of locating device.

The ski hill is open again.

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