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Thread: Mammoth area Avalanche
02-03-2006, 09:17 AM #1
Mammoth area Avalanche
BE CAREFUL OUT THERE FOLKS
02-02) Bridgport, Calif. (AP) -
An avalanche in the Sierra Nevada killed a skier and injured two others, authorities said Thursday.
A 31-year-old Mammoth Lakes woman with a broken back, broken leg and other injuries was pronounced dead Wednesday after being flown to a Fresno hospital, said Shannon Kendall, spokeswoman for the Mono County Sheriff's Department.
The victim's identity was not immediately released pending notification of relatives.
Joshua Feinburt, 30, and Christopher J. Pearson, 27, both of Mammoth Lakes, survived.
The three friends were skiing in the backcountry near Black Smith Canyon in the Twin Lakes area when they were caught in the avalanche, Kendall said.
"All three skiers were extremely experienced and carried avalanche beacons with them," Kendall said.
Pearson was able to hold on to a tree until it subsided then dug his friends out of the snow and moved them to a safer location, she said.
Feinburg was not breathing but Pearson cleared his airway and he revived. He had a large cut to his jaw that was treated after his rescue.
The woman slipped in and out of consciousness, Kendall said.
Pearson skied about a half-hour to Mono Village and used a store telephone to call for help. Sheriff's deputies and more than a dozen members of the volunteer search and rescue team went to the remote area with snowmobiles, snowshoes and first aid equipment, Kendall said.
Bridgeport is 184 miles east of San Francisco.
From the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center:
Current Avalanche Advisory
Issued February 1, 2006
This is Sue Burak with the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center with a special avalanche bulletin posted at 9pm, Wednesday, February 1, 2006.
A large slab avalanche occurred today on an east facing slope in the Sawtooth area out of Bridgeport. Preliminary reports indicate 3 people were involved. There are very few details at this time.
Backcountry skiers and riders should take this incident as a warning to be cautious on all wind loaded slopes. The winds and warming trend have created areas of new relatively dense slabs at elevations above 9,000 ft. This dense wind slab may sit on top of weaker layers of lower density snow.
East to southeast aspects receive greater amounts of solar radiation this time of year which produces melting of the snow surface. Sunballs, rollers, and point releases from rocks are signs of snow surface instability. Wet loose slides may also be triggered by snow bombs falling from trees, new snow melting and releasing from rock bands or cliffs, or snow rollers which gather snow and momentum as they pinwheel downslope. While loose slides may be rather small initially, they can and often do entrain considerable wet weak surface snow as they descend.
Another thing to look out for are unstable cornices near the lee side of ridgetops. Extra caution is advised on slopes below cornices and on the ridgeline near such deposits.
Unsettled weather will continue tomorrow with west winds gusting to 40 and 50 mph over the ridgetops. Daytime highs will be in upper 30's and low 40's at the 8,000 ft level with lows around 22-25 F. The outlook is for dry and warm weather for Friday and the weekend.
Avalanche Danger Rating
Stability tests in the Mammoth and Bishop area show a well bonded snowpack. In light of the Blacksmith Creek avalanche, eastern windloaded aspects may deserve special attention, however I do not feel comfortable issuing an avalanche danger rating until I visit the site or receive more detailed information. If you are in the backcountry and observe avalanche activity or dig a snowpit, please post to the discussion board.
This advisory is our best interpretation of snow pack conditions and NWS forecasts issued today. Please read the following paragraph:
Avalanches do not happen by accident and most human involvement is a matter of choice, not chance. Most avalanche accidents are caused by slab avalanches that are triggered by the victim or member of the victim's party. Even small slides can be dangerous. Always practice route finding skills and carry avalanche rescue gear. Remember that avalanche danger ratings are only general guidelines. Distinctions between geographic areas, elevations, slope aspects and slope angles should be made.
For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings:
02-03-2006, 11:37 AM #2
I know it's a "re-run thread" but...
Stuck in the shop today and there is a city-wide sadness in the air today. I will only say that it "appears" we lost a mountain patroller in this sad incident.
Don't want to say any more than that to respect privacy issues.
+++++Positive Vibes+++++ to Mammoth Ski Patrol they have had a tough week and this last one was a blow to their tight knit family.
Last edited by hemlock hiker; 02-03-2006 at 12:07 PM."You must be the change you want to see in the world." -Gandhi
02-03-2006, 12:02 PM #3Lambaster
- Join Date
- Nov 2003
- My armchair
prayers for all involved, their families and friends
rip"... she'll never need a doctor; 'cause I check her out all day"
02-03-2006, 12:22 PM #4
Heard about this yesterday...and eventhough the Sierra snowpack "seems" to be more stable that CO and UT, still need to make safe decisions...
Heart goes out to those involved and their families...this will be a tough one for the Mammoth area.
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + +
D."There's a truth that sanity denies...." --Sprung Monkey
02-03-2006, 02:56 PM #5Registered User
- Join Date
- Dec 2004
I don't think it has bene posted here yet there were four deaths at Mammoth Mountain last weekend. Crazy to think about it. Here is a report form the OC register:
Friday, February 3, 2006
Four deaths cast pall over Mammoth Mountain
By DAVE STREGE
The Orange County Register
Every year, somewhere in the country a story hits the newswire that exposes the sad side of skiing and snowboarding.
A skier died at Blackcomb Mountain after falling 148 feet.
A teenage girl was killed in a skiing accident after losing control and hitting a tree and a snowmaking hydrant at Sugarloaf.
A man died after skiing into a tree at Beaver Creek Resort.
A male skier died of a neck injury after falling on an expert run at Vail Mountain.
A man died after skiing into a stand of trees at Snowmass Ski Area.
Clearly, fatalities can sometimes occur after one steps into skis or a snowboard. Accidents do happen.
Yet fatalities remain a rarity in the sport, which is why Mammoth Mountain is feeling as if it just received a colossal punch in the gut.
The resort is mourning the deaths of four guests in four days.
"It is unprecedented," Mammoth spokeswoman Joani Lynch said, adding the resort usually might have one death by natural causes or accident per season.
"These are some of the hardest days for everyone at Mammoth, for the employees and the guests. There's not a whole lot I can say about it."
Accidents claimed three skiers last week. A heart attack took a fourth Sunday.
On Thursday, Benjamin Trees, 16, of San Diego was ski-jumping when he landed wrong and perforated his aorta, according to the Mono County Sheriff's Department.
Lynch said the preliminary investigation showed he was traveling at excessive speed when he approached a jump, and it caused him to surpass the landing of the jump.
On Friday, an unidentified 38-year-old who was skiing with friends lost control and slid into a stand of trees, Lynch said.
On Saturday, Luther Sartor Jr., 61, of Los Angeles, was skiing the bottom of Saddle Bowl, lost control, and skied off the run and into a group of rocks, Lynch said.
Walter Shaw of Fullerton had known Sartor for 35 years. He said Sartor wasn't wearing a helmet, but that would not have mattered. His chest and rib cage were crushed and his ribs punctured his heart, Shaw said.
On Sunday, James Ferguson, 63, of Garden Grove, a diabetic, suffered a heart attack, according to Shannon Kendall of the sheriff's office.
Not only are these tragedies difficult for the families and friends, they are tough on the family at Mammoth Mountain.
"We're working closely with all the employees to get through it," Lynch said. "It affects everybody."
Fortunately, it doesn't happen often.
Statistics from the National Ski Area Association show that 38 people on average die in accidents each year while skiing or snowboarding on the slopes of the nearly 500 resorts in the U.S.
In 2003, there were 41 fatalities among 11.6 million participants, or 3.5 fatalities for every million participants, the NSAA reports.
By comparison, swimming produced 2,100 fatalities among 47 million participants, or 44 fatalities for every million participants.
Bicycling accounted for 700 fatalities among 36.3 million participants, or 19.3 fatalities per million.
NSAA also reports that "most of those fatally injured are going at high rates of speed on the margins of intermediate runs."
The latest tragedies serve as a reminder to ski and snowboard with safety in mind.
At least more people are wearing helmets, about 33 percent compared to 10 years ago when hardly anyone wore them.
While helmets are recommended safety equipment, they don't prevent all injuries.
NSAA president Michael Berry said recently a helmet won't do much for you if you hit a tree going 25 mph. You still need to be cautious.
"Put on a helmet," he said, "but ski and snowboard as though you didn't have one on."
02-03-2006, 03:19 PM #6
I'm sure we'll all hear more details on the mishap in time. I'm curious to hear some solid beta on the area and conditions. Until then, there's a big question mark and void. Let's learn from what happened and not repeat it. My condolences go out to all family and friends for the losses.
02-03-2006, 03:56 PM #7Originally Posted by tarkman1
"Doug Chabot, director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center and myself skied to the site of the accident yesterday. I will be posting a summary of our findings tonight or tomorrow AM in the ESAC advisory. The avalanche was triggered in a heavily wind loaded northwest to northeast gully. Slope angles ranged from 40-45 degrees. The crown from Wednesday's slide was not visible yesterday morning due to high rates of wind transport from SW winds.
My heart goes out to all of you who have lost a friend and kindred spirit.
Sue""You must be the change you want to see in the world." -Gandhi