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02-19-2012, 05:11 PM #1Registered User
- Join Date
- Oct 2011
Avalanche with fatalities near Stevens Pass
"SEATTLE — Authorities are now saying three people are dead and as many as eight are missing after an avalanche near a Washington state ski resort."
3 dead and up to 8 missing.
Vibes and condolences to the friends and family.
Apparently the 8 others are accounted for.
Also, discussion has already started on a different thread:
Last edited by steventy; 02-19-2012 at 05:14 PM. Reason: New info
02-19-2012, 06:00 PM #2Registered User
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- Mar 2009
- Aspen, Colorado
deleted my post
02-19-2012, 09:16 PM #3
I am really getting sick of losing friends in slides!... Jim Jack was one of the coolest skiers (and dudes) ever.Leave No Turn Unstoned!
02-19-2012, 10:25 PM #4
Vibes to all affected. The losses this season are horrible.
PLEASE everybody take an extra caution pill before going out to play - the mountain will likely still be there (even our PNW volcanos) next time you want to go.
02-20-2012, 06:26 PM #5
RIP Jonny Brenen
That is certainly not the way I wanted to hear your name or see your face on TV after all these years.......
Rest in Peace
Last edited by yonskion; 02-21-2012 at 12:04 PM."Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is" -Charles DeMar
Never argue with an idiot..They always drag you down to their level and beat you with experience
02-20-2012, 08:11 PM #6
Has the official incident report from xxxx been issued yet? Searching keeps leading me to excellent resources like cnn and msn...
02-20-2012, 08:46 PM #7
Originally published February 19, 2012 at 3:51 PM | Page modified February 20, 2012 at 1:48 PM
Four dead in avalanches at Stevens and Snoqualmie passes
Three experienced skiers and a snowboarder were killed in separate avalanches around noon Sunday — one in an out-of-bounds area at the Stevens Pass ski resort and the other in or near an out-of-bounds area at Alpental near Snoqualmie Pass.
By Brian M. Rosenthal, Craig Welch, Mike Lindblom and Lark Turner
Seattle Times staff reporters
STEVENS PASS — Her buddy shouted "Avalanche!" but when things started sliding, it felt to professional skier Elyse Saugstad like just a tiny rush of loose snow beneath her skis.
In an instant the weight and pressure grew so immense that she rocketed down the slope, banging into trees and rolling upside down.
"The next thing I knew I was taking more than a 2,000-foot ride down an avalanche, tumbling and turning and tossing the entire way," Saugstad said Sunday.
She came to rest cemented in snow with her face exposed. The slide would kill three of her friends.
Three expert skiers, including the director of marketing services for the Stevens Pass ski resort and a widely known judge of competitive freeskiing events, died after being swept downslope and buried by the state's deadliest avalanche in years Sunday around noon.
Less than an hour earlier, a snowboarder died in an unrelated slide that swept him off a cliff near The Summit at Snoqualmie.
The skiers and the snowboarder had been in out-of-bounds areas bordering the resorts. High avalanche warnings had been issued for some areas Sunday.
The first avalanche struck about 11:30 a.m. at Alpental, one of four areas at The Summit at Snoqualmie resort. The King County Sheriff's Office said the snowboarder triggered the avalanche, which swept him about 500 feet over a cliff.
The snowboarder was a 41-year-old Seattle man whose name has not been released.
The second avalanche swept through a group of 15 skiers at Stevens Pass just after noon in an ungroomed, out-of-bounds area.
Families confirmed that among the dead are Chris Rudolph, 30, the marketing director for Stevens; and Jim Jack, 46, of Leavenworth, the freeskiing judge.
The name of the third victim had not been confirmed Sunday night.
Most people in the group were local Stevens Pass skiers who have traveled through the backcountry valley many times before, said Megan Michelson, freeskiing editor for ESPN, who was part of the outing.
She, Saugstad and the victims were part of a group of eight friends who had hiked over to Tunnel Creek from the Seventh Heaven chairlift in the southwest corner of the resort, said Nathan Amisson, who works at Stevens Pass and knew some in the group.
Other people in separate groups were also skiing nearby.
Fracture opens in snow
Saugstad said her group had been following backcountry protocol all morning — each skied with a buddy, and they crossed treacherous slopes one at a time.
During a run around noon, some of the group already had started skiing down, going one by one before meeting up near the trees. Saugstad had skied a few hundred feet when her ski partner shouted.
It wasn't clear where the slide started, but it appeared to come through the woods — an unusual but not unheard-of event, she said. It quickly pummeled them.
"The run funnels you into a creek, which is very narrow and tight, and we got ripped through the trees," Saugstad said.
Some skiers already had descended into the wooded area, but most were above in the open snow, Michelson said. One skier passed through, leading to a 3-foot fracture in the snow.
"It didn't look bad from our perspective," said Michelson, who was standing above the slope waiting for her turn to ski across. But then it grew into a massive snowslide that rushed down the mountain.
One man kept his head above the snow by clinging to a tree. Saugstad, who skis frequently in Europe, where inflatable emergency air bags are popular in the backcountry, opened hers. It allowed her to stay largely on the slide's surface.
The three who died ended up buried deep, one landing just a few feet from Saugstad, who couldn't move but survived because her head and hands were above the snow.
"There was a shock factor," she said. "I tried to remain calm, tried not to freak out. I finally thought to yell 'help' and it was just magically then that the first guy showed up."
Right after the slide, Michelson skied back and forth, using her snow beacon to detect the emergency beacons of other skiers, she said. Others in the group were digging and trying to save people.
Those not hit by the avalanche dug their friends out, but efforts to save them through CPR failed.
Michelson said Sunday night she felt shaken by the tragedy. But she had collected her thoughts well enough to report via ESPN.com and to describe the avalanche in detail later in a phone interview.
"We assume a risk"
"Obviously, it was a backcountry area. It was well-trafficked. Obviously, we assume a risk when you ski in the backcountry," she said, stressing that all the skiers were experienced and well-equipped. "It was a great loss."
The area at Stevens Pass is "out of bounds," meaning that it is not part of the resort. While it is not illegal to be there, those who choose to enter it do so at their own risk, said John Gifford, general manager of the resort.
It's a popular spot for backcountry skiing, but it's dangerous — one person died there in an avalanche last year, Gifford said.
Sunday's avalanche swept the skiers about 2,000 vertical feet, said Deputy Chris Bedker of the King County Sheriff's Office. The avalanche was some 200 yards wide and 20 feet deep, officials said.
"It's nature," said Katie Larson, spokeswoman for King County Sheriff's Office. "I don't want to make it seem trite, but sometimes nature is bigger than we are."
Rudolph lived in Leavenworth, Chelan County. He was an experienced skier who loved the mountains, said his father, Ross Rudolph, of Tahoe City, Calif.
"Chris was just the most wonderful son in the world, and we loved him so deeply," he said. "Our hearts are just broken."
Jack was head judge of the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour and of the International Freeskiers Association. His father, Norman Jack, said his son started skiing when he was 5 years old.
"He loved everyone, and everyone loved him," Jack said. "He had friends all over the world."
The ski resort remained open Sunday and planned to reopen Monday.
Carried over cliff
The earlier avalanche at Alpental, a drive of about 90 miles from Stevens Pass but just 20 or so miles as the crow flies, came as the snowboarder was with friends in an out-of-bounds area. The friends quickly called for help, but rescue workers were unable to find the snowboarder until an hour and a half later.
By the time they reached him, the snowboarder was unconscious and could not be revived.
An initial report said the snowboarder was underneath the cliff when he became buried in snow, but Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue Chief Jay Wiseman later clarified that he was carried over the cliff by the avalanche.
The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center hadn't heard many reports of avalanches in the Cascades through the week, but with 18 inches of fresh snow, the danger grew through the holiday weekend, said avalanche meteorologist Garth Ferber.
By Sunday morning, however, danger was high on north- and northwest-facing slopes above 5,000 feet.
Staff reporter Amy Martinez contributed to this report.
Lark Turner: 206-464-2761 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or email@example.com
02-20-2012, 09:10 PM #8
Avalanche Control in Steven's Pass -big one!
02-21-2012, 09:43 AM #9Registered User
- Join Date
- Feb 2005
- North Vancouver/Whistler
"when things started sliding, it felt to professional skier Elyse Saugstad like just a tiny rush of loose snow beneath her skis.
In an instant the weight and pressure grew so immense that she rocketed down the slope"
Deja vu - that's how my involvement went- not much warning
02-21-2012, 04:00 PM #10
I find myself at times feeling safe in the bc because I see ski tracks. What the hell is wrong with me? If the slab at Stevens held 12 skiers instead of 3 before it broke and they all made it without incident and someone like myself saw 12 tracks on that slope I wouldn't of thought twice about ripping it. deep down we want to believe its safe so our minds justify the risk and assume that the people that created the tracks before me knew what they were doing so "I'm good". Anyone else have this happen? I'm somewhat new to bc skiing so not sure if this is normal
Last edited by AK47bp; 02-21-2012 at 10:01 PM.
02-23-2012, 04:16 PM #11
02-24-2012, 01:32 AM #12
02-24-2012, 09:36 AM #13
The problem, as always, is that the mountain doesn't give a shit about your pre-frontal cortex."Buy the Fucking Plane Tickets!"
-- Jack Tackle
02-24-2012, 02:12 PM #14
02-24-2012, 04:46 PM #15Registered User
"Alpine rock and steep, deep powder are what I seek, and I will always find solace there." - Bean Bowers
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- Sep 2010
02-24-2012, 08:30 PM #16
Waiting to read the report myself. Spoke with some locals that are tuned in to the weather history there and I'm interested to see if the report jibes with what they said would have kept them out of the extreme back country.
02-26-2012, 08:30 AM #17aaron wright
- Join Date
- Oct 2008
Preliminary report up. click auvgeeks link.
02-26-2012, 09:16 AM #18
With all due respect to the deceased and their families, I need to ask a couple of questions so this doesn’t happen to me. I am a BC jong, and I am in total shock over the amount of avy deaths in this bleak snowfall season. I understand the PNW has been getting hammered and the pass area had just gotten 26” of fresh with heavy winds & a considerable avy danger (level 3?). So my first question is...
1.Why go out when the danger is considerable, the definitions below sound pretty serious.
Natural avalanches possible. Human triggered avalanches probable.
Unstable slabs probable on steep terrain.
Be increasingly cautious in steeper terrain.
2.Why didn’t anyone dig a pit to check the snowpack? Is pit digging mainly a jong thing? (I wouldn’t think so)
3.Out of all of those experienced BC skiers how come not one person thought it was bad idea? Peer pressure?
I could see if we got a big dump here in CA, everyone would be throwing caution to wind and going out no matter what because of the meager snowfall this season, but the PNW has plenty of snow. So why the rush to get into the BC, why not just ride the lifts until things settle down and become safer?
RIP to all involved and +++vibes to the families, this too shall pass..."In a perfect world I'd have all 10 fingers on my left hand, so I could just use my right hand for punching."
02-26-2012, 09:59 AM #19Banned
- Join Date
- Dec 2009
nothing wrong with going out on considerable/high danger days. those ratings mean there is amazing snow to be had and very few folks willing to break trail and snoop around. terrain management is paramount meaning low angle slopes, including all terrain above/below/to the sides has to be taken into account to stay safe.
considerable/high days generally aren't rocket science as you can be pretty sure that shit will go if yer not mindful of yer surroundings at all times.
dig a pit? what good does that do, especially if it only tells most folks what they don't want to hear and have pretty much made up their mind to ski that slope anyways?
funny game ain't it?
02-26-2012, 10:18 AM #20
there are perhaps a dozen people who can truthfully answer your questions pertaining to the events that day
and a whole lot of roj armchair experts
not everyone is williing to share their mistakes/experiences with this or any community
in my limited experiences the larger the group or touring party
they more complex and uncertain the dynamics of that group becomes."When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
"I find I have already had my reward, in the doing of the thing" - Buzz Holmstrom
"THIS IS WHAT WE DO"-AML -
ski on in eternal peace
02-26-2012, 11:36 AM #21Banned
- Join Date
- Dec 2009
02-26-2012, 10:26 PM #22
Can you two at least quit the name-dropping thrunting or take it elsewhere?
And please don't quote out of context rog, because what you left out was this,
Anyways, I looked over the prelim report. Slope angle was stated at 42 degrees, but the Google Earth image shows some possible convexity? Plus I have a hard time referring to anything in a steep location with well defined avalanche chutes as a "meadow" (as referred to in the prelim report). I'm really curious to see the terrain profile of the main chute, and specifically to know more about the starting zone for that slide. I've not skied that part of Stevens, but I have been near there and I know that the trees around 7th Heaven can be very steep - I recall eyeballing 50+ degrees in some places (or maybe that's just my eyes bugging out). I'd be hard pressed to call trees in that area a "safe zone" when looking at it from a slope angle and "avalanche terrain rules" perspective.
BUT when looking at it from a familiarity perspective, I can see how most locals who ski that area often might not ever see fractures propagate into the trees, reinforcing a heuristic trap of complacency. And we all know what complacency can do.
This is not intended to be a high holy statement either - I've had my fair share of complacent near calls as well. I'm just trying to understand some of the factors that went into this incident:
-deciding to leave controlled terrain in those conditions
-extremely large group size, especially in those conditions
-perceived safe zone in avalanche terrain_______________________________________________
"Strapping myself to a sitski built with 30lb of metal and fibreglass then trying to water ski in it sounds like a stupid idea to me.
I'll be there." ... Andy Campbell
02-27-2012, 01:15 AM #23?
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- Jul 2005
- Verdi NV
02-27-2012, 07:16 AM #24
Here's the report.
This comment stands out for me,
“…cold temperatures should slow stabilization of existing wind slabs and help maintain the threat of further human triggered avalanche activity, especially on previously wind loaded terrain showing no evidence of recent avalanche activity”"We need sometimes to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what. -George Santayana, The Philosophy of Travel
...it would probably bother me more if I wasn't quite so heavily sedated. -David St. Hubbins, This Is Spinal Tap
02-27-2012, 07:47 AM #25Banned
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- Dec 2009