Forum Index > Trail Talk > Fifteen (edit 24) people killed in avalanche accidents since January 30th
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
gb
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 5545 | TRs

gb
  Top

Member
PostSun Feb 07, 2021 11:17 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Avalanche.org:

US Avalanche Fatalities 20/21
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
pula58
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 385 | TRs

pula58
  Top

Member
PostSun Feb 07, 2021 2:19 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
And the danger today is very high..lots of new snow, with 30mph gusts that create wind loading of leeward slopes.

Time to stay low in the forests, or, if you must go high, stay on ridges, avoid open slopes.

From NW Avalanche center today:

"Updated 7:30 am: Increased danger rating to High due to higher snow totals than originally expected. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.

Very dangerous and unusual avalanche conditions exist. Heavy recent snowfall and strong winds will create natural avalanches Sunday. Avoid open slopes 30 degrees and steeper and stay far away from avalanche path runout zones.

FORECAST DISCUSSION
The past two weeks were very active throughout the region with impressive storms, eye-opening avalanche cycles, and a few close calls. Avalanche conditions related to new snow and wind are concerning enough, and a lingering deep slab instability poses uncertainty and high consequences. Very dangerous and unusual conditions still linger as additional heavy loading from new snow and wind stress the snowpack further. The recent storm snow needs time to settle and stabilize, and deeper weak layers will require patience and a very conservative mindset. Only simple, low angle terrain is appropriate at this time.

Beginning January 24, incremental loads of light snowfall buried a weak old snow surface (mid-January crust/facets) that formed during a prolonged period of cold, clear weather. Observations January 25-29 indicated the old snow surface to be problematic in isolated areas, but avalanches within new and wind drifted snow were more widespread. Heavy loading from new snow and wind January 30 - February 2 (4ft of snow/8.5in water at Heather Meadows) finally pushed the mid-January crust/facets to a tipping point and caused a natural cycle of deep slab avalanches large enough to destroy a house or break mature trees. With clear skies on February 3, many long time locals and professionals were able to document the aftermath, reporting avalanches in areas they had never seen run, and avalanche paths producing slides larger than they can remember. Several close calls occurred in the neighboring West North zone including snowmobile triggered avalanches breaking 3ft+ thick and several hundred feet wide in Canyon Creek on February 3 (photo below), and very large natural avalanches on February 1 on Mt. Herman's east face hitting Bagley Creek with debris and powder clouds running uphill across the valley towards nearby skiers (video below).

During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, continue to follow the latest guidance from local, state, and federal health officials. Avoid unnecessary risks that could impact first responders and stress medical resources.  Wear a mask when appropriate, practice social distancing, and consider recreating closer to home"


Be safe, be wise.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Randito
Snarky Member



Joined: 27 Jul 2008
Posts: 7758 | TRs
Location: Bellevue at the moment.
Randito
  Top

Snarky Member
PostMon Feb 08, 2021 12:06 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
These deaths are very sad.   In the PNW yhis year's snowpack has been atypical and the number of folks touring instead of riding lifts has jumped up considerably.    I think the combination has been deadly -- it would be useful to understand the experience profiles of the unfortunate parties.

FWIW:  I canceled my touring plans this weekend due to the avalanche and weather forecast.   I inbounds skied at Alpental on Sunday -- something that I usually avoid.

Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
RumiDude
Marmota olympus



Joined: 26 Jul 2009
Posts: 2975 | TRs
Location: Port Angeles
RumiDude
  Top

Marmota olympus
PostMon Feb 08, 2021 4:05 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Randito wrote:
it would be useful to understand the experience profiles of the unfortunate parties.

According to this short article: "Despite worries about underprepared new skiers heading into the backcountry, the evidence suggests that itís actually mostly experienced skiers who are getting caught. In a report published last November by the CAIC, authors Ethan Greene and Spencer Logan analyzed the education and experience levels of backcountry travelers involved in avalanches last spring. They found that, while beginners were no more likely to trigger a slide after the pandemic began than before, the proportion of avalanche victims with advanced backcountry experience increased."

If this is accurate, it doesn't surprise me. I remember an article about this phenomenon in the publication of The Mountaineers from a couple decades ago. The observation was that most victims of avalanches were experienced winter backcountry recreationers and were familiar with avalanche assessment. I don't think this current crop of avy deaths have been analyzed yet, but if the past observations hold true, then it is likely similar.

Rumi

--------------
"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
gb
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 5545 | TRs

gb
  Top

Member
PostMon Feb 08, 2021 4:23 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
RumiDude wrote:
Randito wrote:
it would be useful to understand the experience profiles of the unfortunate parties.

According to this short article: "Despite worries about underprepared new skiers heading into the backcountry, the evidence suggests that itís actually mostly experienced skiers who are getting caught. In a report published last November by the CAIC, authors Ethan Greene and Spencer Logan analyzed the education and experience levels of backcountry travelers involved in avalanches last spring. They found that, while beginners were no more likely to trigger a slide after the pandemic began than before, the proportion of avalanche victims with advanced backcountry experience increased."

If this is accurate, it doesn't surprise me. I remember an article about this phenomenon in the publication of The Mountaineers from a couple decades ago. The observation was that most victims of avalanches were experienced winter backcountry recreationers and were familiar with avalanche assessment. I don't think this current crop of avy deaths have been analyzed yet, but if the past observations hold true, then it is likely similar.

Rumi

People with experience are also limited by that experience when the snowpack is unusual - one they have not seen, not seen often, or not seen in the recent past.

I gave a talk about five years ago at the fall avalanche seminar that detailed all of my involvements/close calls. I was able to do this because when I was young I kept a log of weather/snow conditions each time I skied. All of those incidents  (offpiste in ski areas in the early years) involved weak layers of faceted crusts and surface hoar. The behavior of faceted crusts in particular is extremely problematic as the crusts themselves vary with elevation and aspect during a warm storm; and aspect, angle, and elevation, slope shape, and exposure to cool winds, etc. for sun crusts. My worst involvement was a situation so complex that even with all the data subsequently I could see it was not possible to have evaluated the situation beforehand. I chalked that accident up to having over the past number of years too high of a risk profile. It is all probability, for which you cannot predict those probabilities for any given slope (with certain bad layers).

Surface hoar is predictable in existence, but varies in significance at the time of burial with local humidities (like a creek), locations of local inversions, exposure to sun, and exposure to evaporative or transporting winds.

These factors make it impossible for one to be sure about conditions on a particular slope (or parts thereof) when these problems might exist. What you would have to be able to do is to be able to see the snowpack on any particular slope in three dimensions.

As to those with more education/experience, they likely ski more often, seek out good skiing snow with skill, and are better skiers who often ski steeper and more exposed terrain. A look at the terrain in most of those accidents show the terrain not to have been particularly moderate.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Schenk
Off Leash Man



Joined: 16 Apr 2012
Posts: 2371 | TRs
Location: Traveling, with the bear, to the other side of the Mountain
Schenk
  Top

Off Leash Man
PostMon Feb 08, 2021 6:16 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Rest in Peace skiers and sledders. Very sad.

--------------
Nature exists with a stark indifference to humans' situation.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Anne Elk
BrontosaurusTheorist



Joined: 07 Sep 2018
Posts: 1338 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Anne Elk
  Top

BrontosaurusTheorist
PostMon Feb 08, 2021 7:33 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Even that consummate calculated risk taker Alex Honnold commented in a talk I heard that he thought skiing was more dangerous than his climbing activity; probably for all the reasons that gb listed, above. I assume Honnold was referring to the back country stuff.

--------------
"There are yahoos out there.  Itís why we canít have nice things."  - Tom Mahood
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Brian R
Member
Member


Joined: 09 Feb 2018
Posts: 384 | TRs

Brian R
  Top

Member
PostMon Feb 08, 2021 7:34 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Clearly the state needs to enact mandatory education, taxation, licensure for back-county skiers. I mean, this is where we're headed here, right?

https://mynorthwest.com/2495128/kayak-safety-paddleboard-washington/
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Malachai Constant
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jan 2002
Posts: 14934 | TRs
Location: Back Again Like A Bad Penny
Malachai Constant
  Top

Member
PostMon Feb 08, 2021 7:51 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Per NWAC a snow biker is missing where a slide accrued near Knox Creek out of the French Cabin Creek SP. frown.gif

Edit it was a 28 year WSP officer recovered tonight RIP frown.gif

--------------
"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Randito
Snarky Member



Joined: 27 Jul 2008
Posts: 7758 | TRs
Location: Bellevue at the moment.
Randito
  Top

Snarky Member
PostMon Feb 08, 2021 8:29 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Anne Elk wrote:
Even that consummate calculated risk taker Alex Honnold commented in a talk I heard that he thought skiing was more dangerous than his climbing activity; probably for all the reasons that gb listed, above. I assume Honnold was referring to the back country stuff.

Perhaps, it depends on your perspective -- I used to share a house with a hard core rock climber,  at the time I was doing a lot of whitewater paddling.    His view was that whitewater was very scary -- "once you drop into a rapid, you are committed and you can't stop and back down,  with rock climbing, I can move a carefully as I need to and think through each move".   

Based on what I know about Honold -- the sort of intense focus and perfection of technique that enabled him to achieve his goals would very likely be uncomfortable with the amount of uncertainty in snow stability analysis.     

Then there is kind of stuff that "extreme" skiers do -- that are quite risky, even when the snow is stable.

Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Randito
Snarky Member



Joined: 27 Jul 2008
Posts: 7758 | TRs
Location: Bellevue at the moment.
Randito
  Top

Snarky Member
PostMon Feb 08, 2021 8:51 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Brian R wrote:
Clearly the state needs to enact mandatory education, taxation, licensure for back-county skiers. I mean, this is where we're headed here, right?

https://mynorthwest.com/2495128/kayak-safety-paddleboard-washington/

There has been a lot of lobbying by the paddling community about that legislation.   The bill was amended as a result and the revised bill was far less onerous -- but it appears that it will not advance from committee this session.

https://davidhablewitz.com/2021/01/28/senate-hearing-on-sb-5176-delayed-possibly-dead-thanks-to-your-voices/

The original bill would require kayakers to complete a motorboat education course with no useful information for paddlers.

The rationaliztion for the bill was the growing number of coast guard rescue and recovery missions for kayaker in trouble in the Port Angeles area.    However the only organization that was lobbying for the bill was a company in the business of providing motorboat education courses.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
BigBrunyon
Member
Member


Joined: 19 Mar 2015
Posts: 977 | TRs
Location: the fitness gyms!!
BigBrunyon
  Top

Member
PostTue Feb 09, 2021 12:16 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Randito wrote:
growing number of coast guard rescue and recovery missions for kayaker in trouble in the Port Angeles area.

That's because these waters have been increasing in popularity among novice surfers within the Amazon worker scene of late!!!

--------------
YOU NEVER KNOW!!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
ale_capone
Member
Member


Joined: 22 Sep 2009
Posts: 620 | TRs

ale_capone
  Top

Member
PostTue Feb 09, 2021 5:56 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Anne Elk wrote:
Even that consummate calculated risk taker Alex Honnold commented in a talk I heard that he thought skiing was more dangerous than his climbing activity; probably for all the reasons that gb listed, above. I assume Honnold was referring to the back country stuff.

Colin Haley said the same thing after being involved in an avalanche/rescue in Chamonix. Though I think they where both speaking of ski mountaineering, and not your average back country skiing.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
gb
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 5545 | TRs

gb
  Top

Member
PostTue Feb 09, 2021 6:58 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
The language used in Avalanche Forecasts throughout this period has been precise in stating the risk and recommending behavior - I would call that language excellent.

Archived Forecast:

February 6th, West slopes Cascades North (example):

"The potential for lingering deep persistent slab avalanches exists above 4000ft on slopes 30 degrees and steeper. This is not a problem to try to outsmart. These conditions are difficult to manage and tricky to accurately assess. What you find on one slope may be different from the next. Use snow profiles and snowpack tests to track these layers, and place your results within the context of a bigger picture of conditions. As this layer takes additional time to heal, build in a wide margin for error and stick to low angle terrain free of overhead hazard."

February 5th, Stevens Pass preceding numerous incidents:

"Heavy snow and strong wind will continue to tip the snowpack to its breaking point on Saturday, and you could trigger deep, wide and surprising avalanches. On Friday, a number of large and wide natural, and human-triggered avalanches ran on weak snow over the crust from mid-January. Some were triggered from a distance by skiers walking on a ridgeline or in adjacent terrain with huge whumphs reported. On Saturday, these could be 3ft+ deep and could be triggered from a distance or from below on connected slopes. Some slopes may have the ability to create these large and surprising avalanches, while other ones may not. The tricky part is that it will be very difficult to tell, and it's not worth betting your life on it. When the snowpack is this complex, keep your terrain choices simple and stay out of avalanche terrain. Elevations below 4,500ft may offer lower chances of triggering one of these. "
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
gb
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Jul 2010
Posts: 5545 | TRs

gb
  Top

Member
PostTue Feb 09, 2021 11:30 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Today, February 9th, North Cascades West:

"It is possible that you could trigger a deep persistent slab avalanche on steep slopes above 4500ft. There are many reports of avalanches failing on this layer in the last two weeks.  It is buried around 3 to 5+ feet deep at this time. The amount of snow on top of the weak layer is making it more difficult to trigger, however, if someone were to find a shallower spot and trigger an avalanche, results would be catastrophic and probably unsurvivable. A snowshoer might get away without triggering an avalanche on this layer, but there is no doubt that a snowmobile could trigger one.  It is unknown how widespread this persistent weak layer is, as it has been found on some slopes and not others.

You will not find obvious signs of instability like you might with other problems like wind slab avalanches. You need to dig down to the Jan 13 crust and make note of the layer above it, observing the state of any persistent grains and how readily those layers just above the crust fail. I wouldnít place all my bets on one pit for this sort of problem, either. The game is too dangerous to play the odds on. Broad open slopes and large features in areas steeper than 35 degrees is where the highest likelihood of finding this problem is, so avoid those slopes at this time."
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
   All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trail Talk > Fifteen (edit 24) people killed in avalanche accidents since January 30th
  Happy Birthday GrizzDaddy, grasshopper, Gamuru, forestGeek, Noheaperture, dave shorett!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy