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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Jackson
    Posts
    348

    Avalanche at Stowe, Spruce Peak side TR (pics)

    I haven't skied since moving back to VT from Jackson and with this big storm I was stoked to get out. I left Burlington at 6am and got to Stowe early to meet up with my buddy RJ, also a former Jacksonite. Neither of us have passes so the plan was to skin. Everything was on wind hold so we had the mountain to ourselves.

    We skinned up the Spruce Peak side to do some scouting since we were pretty rusty on remembering our way around from the UVM years. Skinned up 3/4 of Spruce and dropped in towards the road.

    I'll come out and say it, my tree skiing skills/perception of "open" are now forever tainted by the west. Anyway, we came up on a little shot that was slightly more open. As we approached, there was some slabbing going on as we cut across the slope. We took note and continued.

    RJ dropped in first as I stood above. After two turns the wind slab broke. RJ cut skiers right and out of the way. The snow cascaded down through the trees and over some rocks. I was surprised to see how much snow was actually moving and how quickly. The slabs took on that fluid look of bigger avalanches.

    I skied the bed surface down and continued to the right into some more fresh snow. Same result, slabs 8-12 inches broke loose and the slide propagated another 30 yards down the hill. Everyone was fine and both RJ and I had beacons, shovels and probes on out of habit. After everything settled we took some time to document it and got out of there.

    Overall, I thought it was a very enlightening experience and figured the EC mags would find this interesting as well.


    My car at 6am


    RJ getting into the trees


    The first crown, about 8-10 inches high


    Part of the slide path. The slide continues to the left of this picture


    Some of the debris below the slide path shown above


    The second crown 12+ inches. It ran on the rain crust from a few weeks ago. Significant wind loading had occurred during the 40+ mph winds.


    More debris below the initial slide path


    The debris continued 60 yards past the initial break













    This slide was not big enough to bury anybody, but it had plenty of power to push you into trees/tree wells/rocks etc.

    It was an excellent reminder that avalanches can happen anywhere, even on the East Coast, deep in the trees. Here's to a safe and deep 2010 EC Mags! (and everyone for that matter).

    And to end on a positive note, my deck upon return...and its still dumping!
    "Stoke your own fire or burn out like the rest"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    8530' MST/200' EST
    Posts
    2,837
    jeebus, never saw anything that bad in my 4 years, only 6-8 inch point releases. Hope that the rest of the world stays safe for the next few days out there, there is definitely some stuff I would not want to get slid into/over in the notch.
    "If we can't bring the mountain to the party, let's bring the PARTY to the MOUNTAIN!"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Right Coast transplant
    Posts
    3,047
    damn guys. Ive set off a few little ones in the notch, but nothing like that.
    guess the wind im being told about is no BS.

    and I agree with Phall, there is a ton of stuff out there I dont want to get carried over
    Live

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Undisclosed
    Posts
    2,134
    I was thinking about the snow pack when I was shoveling out my walkway in North Troy a couple days ago. Clear layering going on there from earlier in the week. It appeared very unstable then and this was before all the snow we are getting. I hope nobody gets swept down the scar on Big Jay.
    A woman reported to police at 6:30 p.m. that she was being "smart-mouthed."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Recovering Jackson-holic (Denver)
    Posts
    504
    Crazy! Thanks for the link on the book Chris. Be safe out there and glad to see you guys are getting snow finally!
    "Figure if I study high, take the test high, I'll get high scores..." -Redman

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    2,213
    awesome.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    take a guess
    Posts
    2,188
    Thanks for the heads up. That's a pretty decent size crown regardless of coast. I was up at Jay this weekend, for my first ski trip since moving back from slc, and I totally share your sentiment about what "open" means.
    Magic Mountain Freeride Team...bringing your grom's game to the next level.

    The only ski you'll ever need...http://worthskis.com/skis/the-magic/

    "Errare Humanum Est"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    West Shore
    Posts
    2,354
    damn.

    so was this down into the notch or on the inbounds side?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Jackson, WY
    Posts
    107
    Wow. Glad you guys are ok. Good to see you're finally getting some snow and some turns in! See you in Jackson soon?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    11,001
    Nice report... enjoy the cycle.
    They got a name for the winners in the world

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

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    80
    I saw (caused) lots of smaller slips at Mad River this morning, but they tended to break <4" deep and had no where to go in the woods. Is the wind to blame?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    The Cone of Uncertainty
    Posts
    49,550
    Quote Originally Posted by yourpalkeith View Post
    . Is the wind to blame?
    I blame Rob Story.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Seattle/Snowbird
    Posts
    1,007
    I can't decide what's more stunning, the fact that a slide was triggered in trees that dense or that people actually ski that shit.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Trying hard to stay in the present moment
    Posts
    938
    Curious about your decision process to go ahead and ski given the wind, new dump, rain crust layering conditions (did you dig a pit, or wait to look at a crown?) and observations of slabbing. Especially after the first slide broke. Not being self-rightous here, just interested in the human factor because that is the primary cuprit in avy deaths.
    Try to keep two ideas in your head at the same time without blowing your brains out your ass.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    T-town, CO. USA
    Posts
    2,101
    A rain event is always a sketchy bed surface no matter where you are. Man... those trees are as tight as a Nun!
    Leave No Turn Unstoned!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    jackson, wy
    Posts
    62
    Quote Originally Posted by Steepdeepnlong View Post
    Curious about your decision process to go ahead and ski given the wind, new dump, rain crust layering conditions (did you dig a pit, or wait to look at a crown?) and observations of slabbing. Especially after the first slide broke. Not being self-rightous here, just interested in the human factor because that is the primary cuprit in avy deaths.
    The drive to Stowe on rt. 89 was far more dangerous than the slides we triggered.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    tetons
    Posts
    7,176
    crazy. glad you two are ok. Vermont is extreme

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Jackson Hole
    Posts
    893
    You can leave extreme Jackson, but the extreme doesn't leave you.

    I'm so glad you guys are out in the snow.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    71
    Quote Originally Posted by powdherb View Post
    I can't decide what's more stunning, the fact that a slide was triggered in trees that dense or that people actually ski that shit.
    Pine Trees are the most helpful in binding a snowpack together, other trees with many branches submerged in the snowpack can help as well.
    Trees like this that have no branches running through the weak layers of snow will not to as much to hold that weak layer together IMHO, although they are pretty dense right there.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    deep in the woods
    Posts
    395
    After seeing those pictures I'm glad I decided to stay clear of a few lines that i was itching to ski skiers right of where you were. I managed to send a few small slabs loose over on the dark side of the notch. Makes me wonder about my plans for next weekend, any chance things could bond over the course of a week?

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    2,049
    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    I blame Rob Story.
    heh

    Quote Originally Posted by Steepdeepnlong View Post
    Curious about your decision process to go ahead and ski given the wind, new dump, rain crust layering conditions (did you dig a pit, or wait to look at a crown?) and observations of slabbing. Especially after the first slide broke. Not being self-rightous here, just interested in the human factor because that is the primary cuprit in avy deaths.
    don't be an idiot

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Baker/Crystal, WA
    Posts
    1,031
    I've kicked off a number of respectably-sized slabs in the notch and on the chin. One was a 15" soft slab that released from my ski-cut along the top of the Hourglass which would have easily taken someone for a long ride down the chute, and thru the trees/over the cliffs at the bottom. Another was in one of the lesser known chutes of the notch -- similar thing, 12" slab that ripped out the whole chute and could have easily carried me over the 15' cliff at the bottom of the chute. Generally, there's not enough continuous open acreage to create an avi big enough to bury, but there's plenty of potential for avi's that can induce trauma. It has happened, such as when those ice climbers in the notch suffered broken bones from riding a slab thru the trees. Keep your wits about you out there, east coastah's.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    9
    Don't forget the guy from Meathead films just died in the Notch a few years ago, big slough took him down a steep gully with frozen waterfalls. Same type of condition, fresh powder on an old raincrust.

    Anyone that's skied Profanity, hourglass, hellbrook, etc, can see the potential for a slide in the right conditions. hell, avalanches have happened on in-bounds trails in the east before.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    239
    Thanks for posting that. The east is a beast all it's own.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    2,317
    February 16th, 2007 we triggered one in almost the exact same area. It was big and would have smoked anyone who was caught in it. That far up into the notch, everything is totally wind affected. I saw tracks coming out of Tusk and after coming down on the opposite side and finding some instability, was wondering how that went for whoever it was. I've definitly been flushed thru the choke up in there before, and people have been burried in Hellbrook before for sure.
    Last edited by DaveVt; 01-04-2010 at 06:40 PM.

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