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ale_capone
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Joined: 22 Sep 2009
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ale_capone
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PostTue Mar 07, 2023 5:12 pm 
Took me a while to find this. From the route next door. One of my biggest concerns climbing couloirs in winter is changing snow conditions near the top. The need to constantly access, and trusting the person in front of you are big too. Nec usually has a giant cornice that you might have to tunnel through mid winter. Comment from NWAC: We appreciate J taking the time to document his accident so we can all learn from his experience. Attached at the bottom is the avalanche forecast in effect for the day of the accident and a map. Date and Time: 3/22/14, 630 PM Location: Colchuck Peak, North Buttress Couloir (NBC) http://www.summitpost.org/north-buttress-couloir/162206 Number in Party: 1 Number in Party hurt: 1 climber Start Zone Elevation: approx 8000 ft Start Zone Aspect: NE Start Zone slope angle: approx 40 deg Avalanche type: Wind slab Trigger: Climber (AF) Width of fracture: 15-20 ft Height of crown face: 18 inches Vertical fall: 1000 feet Injuries: Self rescue, went to emergency room; 37 stiches in right glute, black eye and scrapes NWAC Forecast zone: East slopes WA Cascades - between Stevens and Snoqualmie Pass NWAC Avalanche Danger Rating in effect for start zone (above treeline): Moderate Accident summary by solo climber J P: The couloir was holding about 6-10" of snow in most areas. Some fluting was deeper and some of the steeper areas were swept clean and either crusted or styrofoam. The snow seemed pretty well settled to the harder layer below and was cold powder in consistency. The top where the fracture happened was wind loaded and perhaps 18" deep. The fracture started just ahead of me and about 10' below the col. Classic wind loaded slab below the col with a north south ridgeline. The col is concave with higher rock formations on both sides creating a "doorway" about 30' wide at the top of the NBC. I attempted to self-arrest and had the pick in the layer below with a good grip but the pick just ripped through and then I got twisted away from the axe and began to roll, then bounce down the couloir in the avalanche. Snow filled my mouth repeatedly while I tried to breath. Then the slide slowed and stopped and I was amazed to find myself right on top in the middle of the debris field. The debris fan was approximately 100' wide and about 2-3' deep. The debris was homogenous and smooth. Self-Rescue I walked down to Colchuck lake and made contact with another group of climbers both to let them know of the conditions and to have them evaluate me. I then walked out to the trail head, snowmobiled to Icicle road and drove myself to the E.R.

Snowdog, Bronco  joker
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