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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    114

    Tahoe Area Avalanche - RIP Benjamin Brackett

    I am surprised this has not been posted. Apparently there was an avalanche yesterday outside the boundry of Alpine Meadow resulting in a fatality. I am hoping all MAGs are accounted for and safe. Not much info yet.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_20087869

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Eagle County
    Posts
    11,107
    it's talked about in the Tahoe thread
    ROLL TIDE ROLL

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    235
    from the Avalanche Center

    Three skiers skinned up towards Stanford Rocks. When they reached this area where they wanted to ski, they dropped a small piece of cornice onto the slope as a test. This cornice drop released a slab a few inches deep that propagated widely across the slope. The first skier then started to ski the slope. On his third turn, he triggered a slab avalanche about one foot deep. He grabbed onto a tree and was able to stop himself from being taken down slope. The avalanche then stepped down another 15-20 inches to a lower weak layer and pulled this skier away from his tree and down the slope into the trees below. His partners skied down, saw a ski protruding from the snowpack, and used their beacons to locate the buried skier. The avalanche buried the skier about three feet deep and wrapped him around some trees. It took them about 3 minutes to get to their buried partner.

    Initial reports indicated that the bed surface seemed to be a combination of a smooth rain/MF crust and some other layer. The avalanche was probably a size 2-3 on the destructive size scale. It fractured wide and ran for several hundred vertical feet through the trees. The buried skier was found at least 300-400 vertical feet from the crown. There was still considerable hangfire in the area and considerable avalanche hazard.

    The buried skier suffered severe traumatic injuries during the slide. He died last evening.

    We will be investigating the avalanche site today to learn more details about the actual slide. We will post those details here this afternoon.
    Ski more blog less - Foggy Goggles

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Eagle River Alaska
    Posts
    10,668
    holy shit, they triggered 3 slab layers? damn
    Its not that I suck at spelling, its that I just don't care
    Days on snow 13/14 season: 54
    Vertical Feet Toured: 22,000'
    ER Visits: 1

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    PC, officially utarted
    Posts
    3,283
    RIP. I wasnt there and i dont know the snowpack, but it sounds like they were well prepared for the terrain, and with the results from the cornice drop they believed the slope was safe. Sitting thousands of miles away, i could see myself going through the same decision making process and coming to the same conclusion.

    looking forward to reading the detailed report.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    straight out the nickel & dime
    Posts
    1,216
    Ben was my friend.

    Awesome skier, mountaineer.

    RIP.
    imz-design
    industrial design • new product development
    http://www.imz-design.com/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Golden, CO
    Posts
    403
    Sorry to hear IMZ.

    RIP Ben.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    north aspect
    Posts
    12,250
    RIP Ben, i hope you join up with my friends for laps.
    sad news follows big snow so often making me sad
    bobby

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Suckramento
    Posts
    14,120
    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    holy shit, they triggered 3 slab layers? damn
    Saw some video of pit dug yesterday. Multiple weak layers.
    Quando paramucho mi amore de felice carathon.
    Mundo paparazzi mi amore cicce verdi parasol.
    Questo abrigado tantamucho que canite carousel.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Truckee, CA
    Posts
    45
    Analysis from the avy center http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/node/1486

    Real sad. Condolences.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Donner Lake
    Posts
    256
    Great friend and the nicest guy. Rip
    Just take it easy man.
    I'm perfectly calm Dude.
    Yeah, waving the fucking gun around?
    Calmer than you are.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by dos bolsas View Post
    from the Avalanche Center

    Three skiers skinned up towards Stanford Rocks. When they reached this area where they wanted to ski, they dropped a small piece of cornice onto the slope as a test. This cornice drop released a slab a few inches deep that propagated widely across the slope. The first skier then started to ski the slope. On his third turn, he triggered a slab avalanche about one foot deep. He grabbed onto a tree and was able to stop himself from being taken down slope. The avalanche then stepped down another 15-20 inches to a lower weak layer and pulled this skier away from his tree and down the slope into the trees below. His partners skied down, saw a ski protruding from the snowpack, and used their beacons to locate the buried skier. The avalanche buried the skier about three feet deep and wrapped him around some trees. It took them about 3 minutes to get to their buried partner.

    Initial reports indicated that the bed surface seemed to be a combination of a smooth rain/MF crust and some other layer. The avalanche was probably a size 2-3 on the destructive size scale. It fractured wide and ran for several hundred vertical feet through the trees. The buried skier was found at least 300-400 vertical feet from the crown. There was still considerable hangfire in the area and considerable avalanche hazard.

    The buried skier suffered severe traumatic injuries during the slide. He died last evening.

    We will be investigating the avalanche site today to learn more details about the actual slide. We will post those details here this afternoon.
    I didn't know Ben, but I've lost several friends this way. I am sorry for the loss that his family and friends have suffered and the pain they are going through. I hope they can find solace in the days ahead.

    Without diminishing that and acknowledging that I have made many mistakes of my own and am only here due to dumb luck, good partners and an education I waited too long to acquire, I think we need to be more frank about the deaths we are seeing in the backcountry this year. Too many of us are paying a terrible price for our fun.
    - A cornice drop is a good test, but only if it's a large piece of cornice, preferably several times the weight of a skier/rider.
    - The cornice drop showed instability with the weight of a "small piece of cornice." With that result, the choice should have been to get more information or turn around.
    - A snow pit with stability tests should be considered mandatory every time you ski in the backcountry. If you don't know how to do that properly, take an AIARE or AAI Course.
    - A test cut on a smaller slope of similar aspect, elevation and gradient might have yielded information that made a difference.

    May Ben rest in peace. May everyone else be safe.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    5,385
    RIP, Ben.

    Vibes to all you Tahoe guys, family and friends.
    .....I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record

    http://procatinator.com/?cat=80

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
    Posts
    14,487
    Real funky snow pack this year in the Sierra, at least around Mammoth were I follow the reports. Seems to be a much more continental snow pack then our usual pacific snow pack. We have some deep persistently weak layers and the reports sound like they are coming out of Utah or CO.

    Pay attention to those cracks and whoomphs. Sounds like these guys were pretty experienced and knowledgeable, but that still is no guarantee, so watch for those subtle signs when out there, this weak layer is going to persist for a while, at least around Mammoth, but I suspect there is a similar pack in Tahoe.

    Be safe

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    937
    With the nature of this thread, i'm not sure if this is the appropriate thread for such discussions. if others like, i will respectfully delete my post.

    jserra, your post implies that the group didn't dig any pits or do any ski cuts. how do you know this?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    17
    I am responding to the text of the posting from the Avalanche Center, which mentions only a test using a small piece of cornice. If other tests were conducted, that would be extremely relevant and it would be very surprising if not mentioned.

    I don't mean to impugn the actions of those present. As I wrote, I've made my share of mistakes and I've known the pain of lost friends. My intent is to cause people to see these events differently. They are not inevitable or beyond our capacity to influence. With moderate training and disciplined decision making, we would have fewer accidents and tragedies.

    Peace.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    937
    the incident report provides no details describing the group's decisionmaking....

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    NorCal
    Posts
    2,370
    IMZ - Just saw this separate thread. Truly sorry for the loss of your friend.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Verdi NV
    Posts
    5,740
    There were several right up in local papers about this.

    I found this article to be a nice background on who Benjamin was.
    http://www.tahoebonanza.com/article/...profile=search

    OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Whether he was charging down a powder-blanketed backcountry ski run, mastering a complex rock climb or simply having that wonderful ability to make people laugh, Benjamin Brackett will be remembered as an amazing person who held an infectious and perhaps unparalleled spirit for life and adventure in the Sierra Nevada.

    “He just flowed down the mountain in such a smooth way. He had such beautiful, beautiful turns — he was one of the prettiest skiers I've ever seen,”
    Own your fail. ~Jer~

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Southern NH
    Posts
    3,868
    Sad. RIP Ben. Condolences to family, friends and the Tahoe community.

    Be safe.
    The Passion is in the Risk

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    733
    Wow, it's been a short while now and I still miss Ben terribly. I thought it would be amusing to sneak a photo of friends into the chammy bar one day, but apparently I've got a photo on the wall there now. Ugh. I got to spend three weeks with Ben on Denali last summer and it was the funnest party and trip, even just our team of two. He was more conservative on the trip than I was. I was really looking forward to some big adventures with him. Glad I got to catch up with our crew while I was home briefly.

    Sent from my ST17a using TGR Forums

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