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Thread: Wasatch Conditions 11-12
01-30-2012, 12:32 PM #676
Got out yesterday, skied some mellow pow E-NE aspects with the girlfriend. Saw an old crown on a small rollover, slope angle was ~30 degrees. Turns were good, albeit a short run.
01-30-2012, 03:54 PM #677Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
May ALX88 rest in peace and condolences the family and friends.
I don't think I had met him but he sounds like a good guy.
SFB & Kow, I'm glad you guys patched it up. We are all on the same team, even if we have our differences.
I know that the UAC folks take it hard when there is a death in the backcountry. They wonder if they had said something different or put something a little better if it might have made a difference. Sometimes some people might think differently, but they really are humble people. It doesn't take long working as a forecaster to become humble. A few of the inevitable mistakes is all it takes.
ripALX, that was very good info you posted. Thanks!
I would, with your permission, like to quote you in an avi talk I am giving later this week. Your words, coming after your experience, are powerful. Too many of us have dug dead friends out of debris.
Twice last week I was sorely tempted to drop relatively steep lines. I thought I could see mitigating factors. Both times my partners weren't into it. After this weekend, I'm glad I backed off.
Stay safe everyone. There's still lots of winter to go and the hoars are going to be there for a long time.
01-30-2012, 04:36 PM #678
UDOT will be doing control work on January 31, 2012 in Little Cottonwood Canyon at 7:30 am. A closure is in effect from Mt. Superior to the west side of Cardiff Peak until 8:00 am on January 31, 2012.
01-30-2012, 05:03 PM #679
Seeing as how most of the PWL are located on ~NE aspects, we've been trying to stay on relatively benign aspects such as lower cardiff bowl, etc. Snow was excellent today, despite the ominous crust lurking, we were able to ski top to bottom barely touching it.
We've also just given up completely and started building fat booters. It's a perfect time to refine your air skills instead of skiing flat lame pow (where you will likely also encounter PWLs).
01-31-2012, 04:52 PM #680
Condolences to Alecs' family and buddies. Wish I could have gotten out with him - he sounds like he had great energy.
01-31-2012, 09:38 PM #681
hway2 alta cat track to davenport to TP to flanigans bed surfaces thin rocky and gear thrashin, large depisition in runouts
quailty snow/turns on both n aspects..
wpt bomb hole/slope stability test n facin emma didn't go
= westbowl hammered with goofy non traderoute skinner bonus
I dig the EL no nonsense report style
can't ever remember using the two dog skinner
north facin bcc ussually skis better"When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
"THIS IS WHAT WE DO"-AML -
ski on in eternal peace
02-01-2012, 12:38 PM #682
I know this isn't technically the Wasatch, but anyone want to go poke around in the Oquirhhs? I am trying to get some beta for later in the season. Middle canyon looks like it should have enough snow up it to throw a skin track in and get some turns. Will just be nice to get outside of the Wasatch on Saturday.
02-01-2012, 01:21 PM #683
I also put this in the "Death Sucks" thread:
I was one of the guys who toured with Alecs on Argenta just two days before his death. I will share parts of my conversation with him and my insight to his fatal decision.
When I met up with Alecs and his friends they had already decided to ski Argenta. He had hit it the previous day and said it felt stable. I didn't like the idea and suggested we do some tree lines elsewhere. But their minds were made up so I said I'd just go to the base of the headwall with them and dig a pit. I really was curious about how the weak layer was adjusting to the big slab. Alecs was very surprised that I was opposed to skiing the headwall. He kept saying that it felt really stable up there and that somehow it was an exception to the generally weak snowpack. I said I didnt care how it felt to him, the bottom line is there is a persistent weak layer in the snowpack. I began to feel a little disturbed by how he seemed to replace his snow science knowledge with his "intuition". He had taken a very in depth, full semester avy course at the U (essentially a level 2) and knew damn well the unpredictable nature of persistent weak layers. As we got higher up he pointed at the west couloir of Argenta and acknowledged that would be too dangerous to ski. We also discussed the west face of Kessler and how a friend was caught in a hard slab there in similar conditions just two years ago (it turned out Alecs got caught very near where this friend was caught. Luckily this friend grabbed a tree in time or he would have likely been carried full track like Alecs). As we approached the headwall I noticed he began to skin right up the middle of one of the slide paths. This wasn't necessary because there were some safer trees to the side. I told him this but he didn't seem to really care. In his mind, the headwall was a green light. As we were digging a pit at the base of the headwall he asked me if I wanted to ski Tanners on Saturday (the day he got caught) I replied "Not a chance in hell!!! I can't believe I'm even here right now!" I then told him about some of the slides that had been happening on southerly terrain due to facets.
We did an ECT and typical for deep slabs there was no significant result. This was just more confirmation for Alecs so he and his 3 friends began skinning the headwall. He asked "You coming Mark?". In that moment some bullshit excuses began running through my mind: "well the slab is pretty stiff and there's a lot of trees here for anchors and the skinner is already in and........" So I gave in and against all my best judgement began following them up the Argenta headwall with deep slab instability. Ridiculous. One of the guys who was new to touring said "well thankfully they already skied this yesterday so that means it's safe right?" I replied "No it doesn't mean anything".
As the group was transitioning on the ridge I skied down a few feet next to a tree and triggered a 20 ft crack. I mentioned this to Alecs but he didn't seem very interested. Then I dug down and found it to be much more hollow than at the base. I also mentioned this to the group but again it didn't generate much interest.
It was great skiing on the headwall but honestly I didn't really enjoy it cause all I could feel was fear and shame for being there. I knew I had failed myself and did not set a good example for Alecs. It didn't matter that we got away with it, we were still wrong. This helped set the stage for Saturday.
While at work on Saturday I got two worried messages from friends asking if I was ok cause there had been a death on Kessler. I remembered from the avy forecast that morning Drew stated it would be the exact type of day that was prime for an accident: a sunny Saturday with plenty of pow and concealed danger to catch somebody. I was then told Alecs wasn't answering his phone and that it was a young snowboarder who was caught and carried into Mineral. I burst into tears. I thought about what could lead Alecs to get caught in an area that just two days prior he acknowledged as being too dangerous. Late last season the snowpack was relatively stable and he was able to ski that line and others near it numerous times, right after big storms, without incident. When he stood on that peak, perhaps all the good memories came back and clouded his judgement. No doubt, he fell into a familiarity trap. I am told by one of the investigators that the group acknowledged the danger that day and decided they would head to safer terrain in Mineral. So in Alecs's mind, if they could just get down the west couloir safely they would be ok. The other guys didn't know what they were getting into because from the top it just looks like a moderate tree run. Perhaps he figured if he did get caught he could possibly grab onto a tree like our friend did there two years ago. Whatever the excuses, the risk seemed acceptable and he set off down the west couloir like he had done so many times before. Where there is great passion there is often great error.
If I had held my ground and refused to ski the headwall that day would it have influenced Alecs to choose a different route on Saturday? In a sense, it doesn't matter anymore because it's in the past. But in another sense, it does matter because I hope that question will forever remind me to stick with what I know is right, regardless of the consequences.
Last edited by Mark H; 02-01-2012 at 06:42 PM.
02-01-2012, 02:05 PM #684
thanks for that mark.
02-01-2012, 02:22 PM #685
Excellent write up Mark. I'm sure it's not easy to do that.
This sounds silly, but I've skied that north headwall a bunch when it was "recovering from facets", and I've always felt stupid for being there in those conditions. We all kid ourselves when our gut instinct is to turn around. Everybody does it. Some people get away with it, others don't.
02-01-2012, 02:28 PM #686
damn... extremely sobering stuff
02-01-2012, 03:32 PM #687We all kid ourselves when our gut instinct is to turn around. Everybody does it. Some people get away with it, others don't.Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield: Oh, I'm sorry. Did I break your concentration?
02-01-2012, 03:38 PM #688Johnny's only sin was dispair
02-01-2012, 04:00 PM #689Lambaster
- Join Date
- Nov 2003
- My armchair
.... interesting find; bet our Brad Davis thinks Trackhead is Victor Kohler
http://books.google.com/books?id=9l8...lanche&f=false"... she'll never need a doctor; 'cause I check her out all day"
02-01-2012, 06:23 PM #690
I appreciate you sharing Mark. I've learned a ton from the recent posts in this thread, and from the final write-up on UAC with photos. I'm sure that wasn't easy to get out.
02-01-2012, 07:35 PM #691
Thanks for sharing Mark. I am sure we can all take something away from this."Officially known as Highway U-210, more commonly known as Little Cottonwood Canyon and unofficially acknowledged as the epicenter of the greatest snow on earth." Andrew McLean
02-01-2012, 09:58 PM #692
strong post MH don't second guess yourself, bummed to not be able to make it up to soli tom.
was there the day he refers to a couple of seasons ago when a decision to dig a pit almost got real ugly.
Takin the same class he took now great class great teachers great season to learn.
took luffyjongski out for some learnin of the turn earnin
n facin flanigans prob a little less then 10k 32 degrees
210 cm depth dirt layers ~ 115 cm
ct low 20's @ 65cm mostly q1 throw in a ct 17 @ 135 q2, ect no result.
gainin strength but thats still a deep slab 140cm worth
fuck i hate the metric system.
need to do a few pit diagrams for class will try and scan I suck hard at science & math, hell english too
skied well luff said "bestest day of the season"
topher says don't blame me if the datas off"When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
"THIS IS WHAT WE DO"-AML -
ski on in eternal peace
02-01-2012, 11:31 PM #693
Thanks to all who have shared their sympathy and thoughtful comments.
FYI there will be a memorial service for Alecs tomorrow February 2, 5 p.m., at the Moonbeam Lodge at Solitude.
02-03-2012, 01:44 PM #694sous ski
- Join Date
- Dec 2011
- Whitefish, MT
not that my wellness pertains to wasnatch conditions, but i had a accident at b town. ate some wood! just wanted to say hats off to the patrol team up there. and always wear a helmet if you plan riding w/in 10 yds of any tree - lone or in a grove they are still there, and your head isnt stronger than the tree.
"its my season ender, but not my life ender"
i feel very fortunate and definitely makes me realize why i dont need to charge at mach speeds anymore
02-03-2012, 05:26 PM #695Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2011
mark h slayed it, strong words man!
co-workers congerin' up free avy smack talk session next thurs at BD and day with maggots diggin in this shit show (will need to fork over some green$ for field day - I know, WEAK!) proposing me spewin bout deep slabs and how to deal - bringin in Grom to talk bout dynamitin' these pigs an straightchuter gonna run his mouth on dealin with unfamiliar terrain an snowpack you ain't kin with but need to hear some interest from mags else screw it and we just keep skiin' the sugah that be formin' - word?avalanche know-it-all jong
02-03-2012, 06:02 PM #696
^^^When is the field day? And how much green?
02-03-2012, 06:26 PM #697Registered User
- Join Date
- Jan 2011
Marley Bones gettin some low angle luv in Ivory Flakes. Lots of wind transport up high, watch out for fresh wind slabs tomorrow.
02-03-2012, 06:37 PM #698
Indeed^^^ what is the beta on this fie gig.it is good to be the geezer!
02-03-2012, 06:41 PM #699
Thats fine gig, and about the field day.it is good to be the geezer!
02-03-2012, 11:36 PM #700awake1563
but I know we can't all stay here forever, so I wanna write my words on the face of today...
- Join Date
- Mar 2008
- SL.UT (CWH, bra)