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  1. #501
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    Oct 2003
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    SE Alaska
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    Quote Originally Posted by AltaPowderDaze View Post
    sorry to hear that derek. glad things worked out ok.


    obs:
    there seemed to be stubborn windslabs up high w/o much energy and sensitive slopes w/ the sun crust underneath.
    We found some that were not so stubborn, and had lots of energy...working on some photos.

  2. #502
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Somewhere around the west
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    Quote Originally Posted by zion zig zag View Post
    Some people have different 'talents'.
    I hear if they are really good, they charge for it.




    I don't have access to that much coin, so I wouldn't know, personally.
    Johnny's only sin was dispair

  3. #503
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    SE Alaska
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    11,693
    Preface: It's always hard to write about mistakes you make in your travels, but I think doing so is always better for education and insight, so with that said. I choked on a big piece of humble pie today after 20 years of a fairly safe track record of ski touring.

    Skinnd up Pole Line, with the idea of looking at south aspects.


    We decided to take a look at Little Sup or Sup, realizing the wind had been blowing and seeing that on both aspects. We figured we'd take a poke and a look around. As we traversed ahead, some spots had wind loading off the ridges, other places just had nice soft snow, unaffected by wind transport.


    We got to the base of Little Sup and crossed a couple small, isolated wind slabs. We found ourselves further out from the ridge than we liked, and then discussed cutting back to the ridge and booting up the rocks. We thought we were on consolidated snow, or a bed surface, or really shallow snow with minimal hazard. Admittedly, I did not probe into the snowpack where we were. We spread out as best we could and started to go back to the rocky ridge.

    As the first in our party cut back, the slope broke around him and he nonchalantly said "avalanche". The second in our group was on a subridge and was out of harms way. I was just about to the subridge, but not quite. I saw the slide coming and hustled on my skins, but no dice............

    Here's a photo looking up at the crown. It propagated from the first in our group up about 15ft, culminating in a crown with a max depth of about 3ft, but mostly in the 1-3ft range. It also seemed to propagate left and right, pulling more down from the initial fracture. The right half of the crown line in the photo below.


    I got hit and at first thought It was small and might be able to self arrest on the bed surface, but I looked up and it seemed to be just getting bigger. I got knocked face first, threw my poles away and tried to twist out of my skis because they were clearly pulling me down. I failed to get my avalung in my mouth because I was clawing at the bed surface trying to not get swept over the cliffs and rocks below. Eventually the slide went over and around me and I was able to stop somehow, not sure how. My poles were gone, skis were off, legs and waist buried, face and head down hill.

    I could see one of our party was fine, but I yelled out for the other and heard nothing. I extricated myself and yelled again, then heard the other in our party. He was perhaps 200+ feet below, unburied, skis on, self arrested on the bed surface before the cliffs, he was able to get his avalung in his mouth right away.

    Aftermath, the first in our party skinning back up the bed surface.




    This photo shows the width of the slide, with the two skiers on the left and right borders.


    This photo is deceptive. The crown is at the upper right hand corner, the rest of what appears to be a crown is not. It's shallow snow that lured us out there in the first place, but we didn't pay enough attention to the fact that it deepened and was all loaded up like a trap.


    I call this the "RETARDS" photo. Look at what those retards skinned into, no wonder they got rolled. The snow leading into it was not wind loaded or slabby at all, but it changed quickly. Unfortunately we decided to turn around 10ft too late and got a lesson from old Mother Nature.


    Another retrospective photo. Again, the crown is not what it looks like. If you look at the slide patch, that will give you an idea of the crown width. The right border of the slide path was where we first discussed cutting back to the ridge, as that was where we first encountered the wind slab. Again, hindsight is 20/20, should have turned back right then, and not continued on that last 10-15ft before making a kick turn.


    The reset button has been pushed, we all got humbled. And although I usually consider myself conservative and willing to back off, today the decision to back off just happened about 15ft or 30 seconds too late, even though we all recognized the danger but didn't respect it enough. The consequences for going for a ride here are very high, and we were obviously very lucky.

    The turns out to the road were refreshing.
    Last edited by Trackhead; 11-29-2010 at 05:04 PM.

  4. #504
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    Aug 2006
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    Somewhere around the west
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    ^^^
    Nice write up. Glad no one had any damage.
    Johnny's only sin was dispair

  5. #505
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    SLC
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    1,195
    Thanks for sharing. Hard to "lay it all out there" sometimes, but is always educational. A good reminder that you play for keeps out there, and that the margin of safety can be very slim.

    Glad you are safe buddy. Sounds like a scary morning out.
    Keep it unclipped

  6. #506
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Two Thousand Leagues
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    1,014
    Glad you all made it down safely, D. Shaken up, no doubt, but alright. Thanks for the candid reporting.

  7. #507
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Bearsden, UK
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    1,197
    Glad you're alright man, and everyone you were with. Thanks for the quick write up.

  8. #508
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    Apr 2005
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    Sector 7G
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    5,693
    Glad you and your party came out safe D....
    This is the worst pain EVER!

  9. #509
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    5
    Glad you and your partners are OK, TH.

    A guy was caught in that area in the mid '80s, went almost to the road and didn't survive.

    You are right, potential consequences there are bad.

  10. #510
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    PC,UT
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    136
    Thanks for sharing your story and insights. Glad all is well!

  11. #511
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Ogden
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    5,579
    Luck, knowledge, timing and good/bad decisions are blurry lines sometimes. Glad you came out on the good end of it all today.

    PS, thanks for not waiting for me this morning

  12. #512
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    not where the most snow was last night...
    Posts
    384
    thanks for sharing. sometimes a little bad can be good, i.e. your reset button. glad yer all ok!!!!
    When seconds count...ski patrol, SAR or the cops are only minutes away...

    If they call it Tourist Season, why cant we shoot them?

  13. #513
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    A parking garage at 8000 feet
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    187
    Great post TH. Thanks.

  14. #514
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    SE Alaska
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    Quote Originally Posted by zion zig zag View Post
    Luck, knowledge, timing and good/bad decisions are blurry lines sometimes. Glad you came out on the good end of it all today.

    PS, thanks for not waiting for me this morning
    Luck is a superstitious belief. Odds are, if you ski enough in the mountains, at one point or another you will be involved in too much snow moving too fast down the mountain. In twenty years, this is my 3rd incident involving moving snow that had the potential to kill me. There have been plenty of other incidents that were related to rockfall, crevasse falls, etc, but as far as avalanches, this is number 3 for me. I'd just assume not count any higher.

    Pretty humbling and a quite helpless feeling to see all that snow coming down on you when you're skinning and have nowhere to go. Then the post slide silence, waiting for your friends to chime in that they are ok..............

    Regardless, I can't wait to get out again, albeit on some lower angled stuff.

  15. #515
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Manhattan Beach
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    1,413
    Shitballs....

    That is some ass-puckering stuff for those involved AND from the perspective of those of us who are no where as seasoned as him....Goes to show, mother nature does not give 2 shits about who you are and your intentions. When it goes wrong, it goes...

    Thanks for sharing, humbling for everyone.

  16. #516
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    38
    Wow TH, that looked intense. I was just up there on Thanksgiving and ran into some similar wind slab. I ended up doing some sketchy kick turns on bulletproof all around the rocky ridge edge and got away with walking right through some slab on high ivory. Good job on the report and the self arrest! We kept it a bit mellower today...


  17. #517
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    Mar 2006
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    SLC
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    2,568
    Damn D, glad to hear everything worked out for you and the crew. Scary for sure, did you hear any collapsing/wumphing before the slide?

    This wind has been nuts, same aspect different drainage, I've found totally different snowpack conditions. Windslab to Blower...

  18. #518
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    Oct 2003
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    SE Alaska
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    Quote Originally Posted by JTrue View Post
    Damn D, glad to hear everything worked out for you and the crew. Scary for sure, did you hear any collapsing/wumphing before the slide?
    No, everything was good to go, just an isolated pocket with consequences. The avi report nailed it dead nuts accurate.......

    We didn't go up and inspect the crown, just skied home. It seemed to be a shallow snowpack phenomenon with a booby trap over it.

    That spot on the approach to Superior always sucks, and always gets your attention. Some days more than others.

  19. #519
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    SLC
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    1,136
    The important question - Did you lose your poles?

    I've only been up superior a couple of times, but I remember not liking that spot and another one near the top of superior where you kind of hang out over LCC. Your story reminds me why.

    Glad you're okay.

  20. #520
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    8200 S.
    Posts
    1,283
    Stay safe my friend. Good to hear the only damage was to the ego. Made me rethink my own decisions for tomorrow.

  21. #521
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    SLC
    Posts
    100
    Pretty much the same obs as everybody else today. You could feel the crust on the south faces, but it still skied well.

    RTR eating a couple thousand feet of pow for breakfast.


    TH, glad you and your crew made it out OK. That very spot sketches me out every time I cross it. I almost made a similar mistake this morning when I suggested deviating from the skinner to save some time on the way back up out of days. Fortunately, one of my partners who had a better vantage point than me saw the obvious wind pillow that we would have crossed and suggested otherwise. Stupid mistake on my part to make a suggestion without being able to see clearly what we would have crossed. You really can't ever let your guard down.
    Last edited by climbhigh1119; 11-29-2010 at 10:52 PM.

  22. #522
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    3,180
    Glad you're OK Trackhead, thanks for sharing.
    "The skis just popped me up out of the snow and I went screaming down the hill on a high better than any heroin junkie." She Ra

  23. #523
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    back to flat and no snow
    Posts
    371
    Trackhead, glad to hear all in the party were OK and thank you for the write-up afterwards. That's a rough spot on Superior for sure and day to day as to the most efficient and safest way up.

    Happy to hear you're excited to get back out and looked at it as a way to raise awareness. Have a great, safe rest of the season.

  24. #524
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    11,132
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    429
    People hang it out on Two Trees/Little Superior all the time without consequences. Slope angles can be hard to judge when everything is generally steep and light is faint.

  25. #525
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    A LSD Steakhouse somewhere in the Wasatch
    Posts
    10,762
    Damn D glad your okay. Good lesson
    headed up poi ridge. Wind jacked with sensitive cornices and wind slabs abound. Cornice drop near catherines saddle released a foot+ 50' wide slab running to floor on stout sun crust. Base depth top of sunset the ussual 0"
    Not a lot going on in that neck of the wasatch
    a lone farmer tending the crop

    the turns off sunset into snake more good than bad but some unexpected windloading off the ridge led to several fractures on small wind slabs

    I'm not real photographically talented but
    Here's another Ice grom gitting sum in silver this weekend.

    Good to see ya Smoe and ts40
    and damn rtr you're gonna need to free that heel to fully rock that grizzle adams beard
    "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

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