Results 1 to 3 of 3
Thread: Ice climbing avy story
02-16-2005, 11:36 PM #1
Ice climbing avy story
This is an old account of my first horrifying avy experience way back in '91.
Location: Hyalite Canyon outside of Bozeman.
Climb: Steep 2000ft+ couloir with six pitches of 70-90 degree water ice.
Conditions: New snow overnight with graupel pouring down during ascent.
I was 19 years old, 1 year in the mountains, transplanted from Minnesota. Didn't know jack about slides. Never though a gully like this could rip so big.
Myself and two others had ascended two pitches of moderate 70-90 degree ice. I had set up a belay at the top of the second pitch, behind a curtain of ice. My two partners were 130 ft. below, both tied to me by two 8mm ropes and the belay I had established.
I heard a roar, tucked behind the curtain, I screamed "avy". They had no chance. Kris got picked up and slammed into Nate. Kris' crampons rammed into Nates arm and bloodied him. The huge spindrift avy pulled the ropes tight as they were held from being yanked off the face of the earth. After about 15 seconds of roar, it stopped. During the slide, I was behind the ice curtain and it just roared overhead. The snow was swirling so intensely, I was inhaling it and couldn't breath. When it ended, my partners were not buried because the climb was so steep, it just swept past them.
After this, four more very large spindrift slides roared down at about ten minute intervals. They didn't have the intesity as the first. But more than enough to yank you off and destroy you. After the first, my friends had gone to the sides of the couloir/amphitheater and had relative shelter from the rest of the slides.
After the fifth slide, we rapped the route. The first 60ft. pitch was partially buried under spindrift debris. The avies went nearly to the valley floor. No more avies came down. We were very humbled and educated.
Photo of the route. Route is "C" in this photo.
1. Even spindrift avies can get huge and deadly.
2. Couloirs are dangerous places, you can't see the terrain that looms above you.
3. When graupel starts raining down, time to get the hell out of couloirs. That stuff rolls off and brings more snow with it.
I had a very similar account a few gullies over about three years later. Route "F" in the above photo. Graupel came on pitch two of this route. We got to a safe spot and a monster came down and went to the valley floor. Then another came withing fifteen minutes. We rapped to safety after the second.
02-16-2005, 11:39 PM #2
More on spindrift, graupel, couloirs.
Booting up "y" Couloir in LCC years back. Didn't check the avy report in the morning, too early. Didn't pay attention to the weather the night before.
It had rained in the valley overnight and snowed up high. We were unaware of this. We booted up the couloir to about 1/2 height when some graupel like substance started to roll down the couloir. I felt uneasy, knowing the terrain above the times I had skied it prior. We all decided to bail. As we stepped west onto those rocky granite slabs, a 5 foot wall of snow came roaring down the gut.
We were in a safe spot and watched it pass. After that, we raced down the couloir and had no more slides come down.
These are all accounts of spindrift avalanches that got bigger as they descended, turning into lethal forces to drag you down nasty couloirs.
02-17-2005, 11:08 PM #3
Good stories and info.