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  1. #1
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    Arrow Steamboat inbounds avalanche

    http://www.steamboatpilot.com/sectio...ad/story/27866

    Thursday, January 13, 2005

    Steamboat Ski Area officials pleaded for skiers and riders to respect closure ropes Wednesday afternoon after someone triggered a substantial avalanche to riders' left of Chute 3 on Mount Werner.

    No one was injured in the slide, which is thought to be the first avalanche within ski area boundaries in more than 30 years.

    Ski area spokesman Mike Lane said he was particularly concerned that the unknown person who apparently triggered the slide had ducked a double strand of rope to the side of Chute 3. It was strung there to close off a band of jagged rocks where the slide broke loose.

    "We're somewhat upset that somebody jeopardized the safety of others," Lane said. "We need people to respect these closures. They're there for a reason."

    The triggered avalanche could have buried an innocent bystander at the bottom of the steep pitch, Lane said.

    Ski Patrol Director John Kohnke said the last official report of a skier triggering an avalanche within the boundaries of the ski area was in the early 1970s when a 12-year-old boy was trapped and killed by a snow sluff to the south of Chute 1.

    Kohnke said his staff has been unable to identify or interview the person who triggered Wednesday's avalanche. He said that the fracture line at the top of the slope was almost 3 feet deep and that the snow slide carried all of the snow on the rocky exposure to the bottom, 50 to 75 yards away.

    Chute 3 was open to skiers Wednesday, Kohnke said, but the closure ropes are strung on the south side of the expert trail to keep skiers and snowboarders away from the dangerous rocks. The ropes were not in place because of any perceived avalanche danger, he said.

    Tracks leading into the snow slide suggested the avalanche was triggered by a snowboarder, Kohnke said.

    The Steamboat Ski Patrol was made aware of the avalanche when its headquarters at the top of Sundown Express received a cell phone call from an anonymous person reporting that somebody had been partially buried on the side of Chute 3.

    "Patrollers responded almost immediately," Kohnke said, but whoever had been temporarily trapped in the snow had dug himself or herself out and left the area. He says the person was fortunate that he or she didn't venture further into the closed area.

    "They could have been dragged over the rocks and buried," Kohnke said.

    Janet Saller, a snow ranger for the Medicine Bow Routt National Forest, said she intends to work with ski area officials to try to determine who was responsible for triggering the slide.

    Kohnke said all three of Steamboat's chutes were closed for about 90 minutes while patrollers "ski cut" the snowpack to check for further instability. They triggered some minor movement near Chute 1, he said. Ski patrollers will be back in the area doing avalanche-control work in the morning, Lane said.

    Steamboat received 8.5 inches of relatively wet snow in 24 hours bracketing the avalanche.

    Saller said she's concerned that skiers and riders in the area may be underestimating the instability of the snowpack in the backcountry.

    The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is rating the avalanche danger "high" across the state. The information center reports that its observer in the Steamboat area has been able to spot numerous slides while on a driving tour of the area.

  2. #2
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    A few times I have been doing storm peak - morning side - chutes and meadow to storm peak laps and have watched them close the chutes during high winds, i assume due to wind loading.

    The report is correct about the danger to "innocents" - The area below these chutes, is a place frequented by skiers to wait for people. The first two chutes are really positioned such that if you traverse from buddys run you can put your self below them, one of only a few ways to get to the upper part of the meadows. The area can be accessed and is often occupied even when the chutes are closed - although getting all the way under chute 2 and 3 takes some traversing that people really don't usually do.
    Last edited by LaramieSkiBum; 01-18-2005 at 12:50 PM.

  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    rough day all around. What did the dude on Hill Street Blues say? "Let's be careful out there."
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  5. #5
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    Thats crazy, super lucky.

  6. #6
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    7 minute response time! PHQ must practically over look the chute.

  7. #7
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    heroic rescue yes.
    but how is it that terrain is open below uncontrolled slopes?
    The group of people caught in the slide weren’t skiing out of bounds and did not cross any ropes, Hunter said. They traversed in above Big Meadow, which is open, and below the chutes. It is believed they triggered the avalanche from below.
    powdork.com - new and improved, with 20% more dork.

  8. #8
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    My guess is they’re hoping nobody asks that question.


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  9. #9
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    I'm curious how they located the full burial. Beacon search, probe line, or...?
    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    All ye punterz! Leave thine stupid heavy skis in the past, or at least in the resort category, for the age of lightweight pussy sticks is upon us! Behold! Keep up with the randocommandos on their carbon blades of shortness! Break thine tibias into spiral splinters with pintech extravagance!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    I'm curious how they located the full burial. Beacon search, probe line, or...?
    I read...can't remember where...that those not buried watched it happened, ran over and were able to locate his snowboard under the snow using their poles as probes. They had dug to his snowboard by time patrol arrived with shovels.

    Quick thinking bystanders.

    Good on patrol for getting him out quick. But a 7min response time ain't exactly impressive. Nor is having non-roped off terrain under a chute like that.

  11. #11
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    It is not at all uncommon for people to hard traverse over to the area under those chutes - when the chutes are open. People meet friends doing the chutes there, and it's also a way to get to that terrain without taking the morningside lift up to the top of the chutes. There are also some nice 5-15 foot drops on that traverse right before you hit chute 1. Point is, people tranverse there fairly often.

  12. #12
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    I was thinking that witness directions must have been useful for locating the buried person. Excellent work by the bystanders.

    As for not having that terrain roped off -

    This was a remotely triggered avalanche. I'm of the opinion that most backcountry travelers tend to severely underestimate remote triggers. I would be inclined to say that a lot of professionals probably do as well, including ski patrols. Nearly every resort that I can think of has mellow terrain that crosses underneath serious avalanche terrain, and it's pretty common for the mellow terrain to be open when the terrain above is closed. I mean it's obvious that patrol made a mistake by having that traverse open on that day, but this is really a problem that can happen most places and in general I think inbounds skiers should be more cognizant of avalanche hazard and the unpredictability that ski patrols face in managing avalanche terrain.
    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    All ye punterz! Leave thine stupid heavy skis in the past, or at least in the resort category, for the age of lightweight pussy sticks is upon us! Behold! Keep up with the randocommandos on their carbon blades of shortness! Break thine tibias into spiral splinters with pintech extravagance!

  13. #13
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    Totally agree -- I think everyone got lucky with this wake up call about remote triggering. I'd imagine underestimation of remote triggering is a pretty regular occurrence with a bunch of users: recreational or pro.

  14. #14
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    Some of the resort’s highest avalanche experts were already at Ski Patrol Headquarters when the slide occurred.



    Well, it IS Colorado after all.
    Ooof!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmot or Fox View Post
    Some of the resort’s highest avalanche experts were already at Ski Patrol Headquarters when the slide occurred.



    Well, it IS Colorado after all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    All ye punterz! Leave thine stupid heavy skis in the past, or at least in the resort category, for the age of lightweight pussy sticks is upon us! Behold! Keep up with the randocommandos on their carbon blades of shortness! Break thine tibias into spiral splinters with pintech extravagance!

  16. #16
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    mutha mutha fuck, mutha mutha fuck

    life ain't guaranteed, love your people while you can

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by doebedoe View Post
    I read...can't remember where...that those not buried watched it happened, ran over and were able to locate his snowboard under the snow using their poles as probes. They had dug to his snowboard by time patrol arrived with shovels.

    Quick thinking bystanders.
    STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A trio of skiers was first on the scene after an avalanche at Steamboat Resort on Sunday, Dec. 15, wiped out a slab of snow between Chute 1 and Chute 2. Three men on snowboards were trapped in the midday slide, but all survived.
    The three skiers, who wish to remain anonymous, were stopped below the chutes, on the upper edge of Big Meadow, watching a group of three snowboarders and one skier traverse below the chutes, going from Chute 1 toward Chute 2.

    Suddenly there was a big boom — a pop — and the whole wall slid.


    As soon as the three skiers felt confident it wasn’t heading toward them, they fixed their eyes on the three snowboarders. The skier, who was able to escape to the side toward Chute 2, screamed “avalanche.” The three snowboarders were caught, “floating” in the slide.
    Then one of the snowboarders went under. And abruptly, the avalanche stopped, about 50 yards away from where the three bystanders stood.

    They immediately jumped into action.

    One skier was already on the phone with Steamboat Ski Patrol headquarters, which received the call for help at 12:58 p.m. The other two began to systematically probe the area in which the man was last visible.


    https://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/...-victims-life/

  18. #18
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    It also states that the VP of operations left out the part where the bystanders helped rescue those buried in the original article. Smells like he was trying to shed press. He probably forced the opening of the meadow ahead of recommendations.

  19. #19
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    So according to the 12/17 article they were on closed terrain?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by nwslider View Post
    So according to the 12/17 article they were on closed terrain?
    It's pretty unclear. Seems like the Chutes were closed but Big Meadow was open. Not sure where the 3 boarders and 1 skier that triggered it cut in, whether they were actually on the chute face, and whether they ducked a rope. The articles seem to contradict each other. Steamboat did say they did not cross a rope line in the earlier interview, I believe.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by nwslider View Post
    So according to the 12/17 article they were on closed terrain?
    That's what he says, but I'm calling bullshit on that one. Unless there's a hell of a lot more poaching going on in Steamboat than most places. 4 people caught, 3 more watching, tons of tracks in the accident photo...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    All ye punterz! Leave thine stupid heavy skis in the past, or at least in the resort category, for the age of lightweight pussy sticks is upon us! Behold! Keep up with the randocommandos on their carbon blades of shortness! Break thine tibias into spiral splinters with pintech extravagance!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by doebedoe View Post
    Good on patrol for getting him out quick. But a 7min response time ain't exactly impressive. Nor is having non-roped off terrain under a chute like that.
    7 minutes is crazy fast for recovery when they weren't even on site when the avy happened.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danno View Post
    7 minutes is crazy fast for recovery when they weren't even on site when the avy happened.
    It was 7 minutes until they were on scene. 8 or 9 til they extracted the victim. And that time was massively sped up by the fact bystanders had already located the full burial victim and dug him out to his waist before patrol arrived.

    Its just that Steamboat left that critical role of the pre-patrol responders out of the story the first time around: https://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/...-victims-life/

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danno View Post
    7 minutes is crazy fast for recovery when they weren't even on site when the avy happened.
    The initial call came into mountain dispatch at 12:58 p.m, according to Hunter...At 1:05 p.m., they were extricating the guest, Hunter said, and by 1:06 or 1:07 p.m., the person was “fully extricated and conscious and breathing.”
    So 7 minutes to respond from Patrol HQ to the scene and take over extrication. Another couple minutes to get the victim out, 8-9min overall. The key here is that patrol did not need to perform a complete rescue as members of the public had already located the buried victim and begun digging him out. Patrol just had to get there and finish the job.

    If they had performed a full beacon search and recovery in that time that would be crazy fast. As it was, I'd say their overall response time was about what I'd expect.

    Edit: doebedoe beat me to it

    Edit to also add: it's not at all surprising to me that the resort glossed over parts of the story. Inbounds avalanches happen a lot more frequently than people think and resorts try pretty hard to keep them quiet. It's not exactly good publicity.
    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    All ye punterz! Leave thine stupid heavy skis in the past, or at least in the resort category, for the age of lightweight pussy sticks is upon us! Behold! Keep up with the randocommandos on their carbon blades of shortness! Break thine tibias into spiral splinters with pintech extravagance!

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