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  1. #1
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    Ophir Pass Battleship Incident

    A fortunate outcome due to a solid ski partner:

    Avalanche Description: Two skiers approached the west side of Battleship crossing the middle fork of Mineral Creek from Ophir Pass Road. We skinned up new avalanche debris that had come from the first major path on the west side of Battleship, presumably part of the natural avalanche cycle a few days prior. They chose this aspect because the forecasted winds would be out of the west and loading east aspects. Halfway up the slope skinning up 25 degree hard avalanche debris they were struck by what appears to have been a natural avalanche and were caught and carried approximately 600-700 feet. Skier 1 was buried to her waist. Skier 2 was totally buried face down, head downhill. Skier 1 dug herself out, switched her beacon to search and immediately found a signal and pinpointed Skier 2 approximately 50 feet below. She dug quickly removing about a meter of soft storm snow before revealing Skier 2. Skier 2 was unconscious and not breathing but had a pulse. Skier 1 stimulated breathing and continued to dig out Skier 2. Skier 2 began spontaneous breaths slowly coming around until he could stand up. Skier 1 retrieved her equipment and she and Skier 2 self rescued. Miraculously, no injuries were sustained by either skier Of note was the sudden shift in wind direction about halfway up their skin track. They had stopped to survey the slope and quickly discuss cutting their tour short due to conditions. The plan was to continue a few hundred feet to the bottom of a large tree island to plan their descent. At that time Skier 2 noticed that winds had shifted and were blowing directly downhill from east to west. Having skied the terrain several times in the past month and presuming that the overhead hazard of the open slopes towards the ridge above had already slid naturally in the last cycle there was less concern for danger from above. Furthermore, the fact that they were on hard avalanche debris meant that they would probably not remote trigger terrain adjacent. Finally, Skier 2 had hunted extensively in this basin over the past several autumn seasons and was intimate with slope angles and terrain despite the obscured weather conditions. It appears that the slope that slid and struck the skiers had a southwest aspect and the start zone was TL. The new debris from this avalanche ran over 300 meters before hitting the skiers and then continued another 500 meters to the bottom of the drainage.
    Best regards, Terry
    (Direct Contact is best vs PMs)

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  2. #2
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    Ophir Pass Battleship Incident

    Sounds like they were lucky A F! By the size of that thing they could’ve easily not been found till July
    Fear, Doubt, Disbelief, you have to let it all go. Free your mind!

  3. #3
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    successful cpr.... way to go, skier 1!

  4. #4
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    Yeah, good work skier 1. I expect the odds of bringing someone back with CPR are quite a bit better if they have a pulse but aren't breathing, vs. no pulse no breath?

  5. #5
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    Damn talk about luck an skill all rolled into one. If skier 1 would have been a complete burial versus a partial then this would have been a whole different story. Major kudos to her for getting her partner out and resuscitated, that is some scary shit right there!
    Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield: Oh, I'm sorry. Did I break your concentration?

  6. #6
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    Nice work, skier 1. Yeah, I have to believe resuscitation is more likely if there’s still a pulse, but still...fkna!
    Don’t give up until.

  7. #7
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    FTR, Battleship is about 6 miles south of the Senator Beck incident west of Red mountain pass, January 5.
    Best regards, Terry
    (Direct Contact is best vs PMs)

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  8. #8
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    glad this had a good outcome, I am sure this was a huge learning experience for all involved. The takeaway should be do not skin up an avie path when active loading is going on above you. the slope angle of their location and the hard debris should not of been part of their decision making.
    Been getting out quite a bit in the southern san juans. was surprised to see a distinct difference in failures in my pits between straight north and north east.
    off your knees Louie

  9. #9
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    300 meters before it hit them and then another 500 to the bottom, which is a steep sided gully. That's a 2,600+ foot slide into a classic terrain trap. Lucky they didn't get swept all the way to the bottom.
    Gravity Junkie

    How can you be in two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?

  10. #10
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    Click image for larger version. 

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    I must be missing something. I'm still trying to get my head around the location, route and aspects. The above image shows the main north/nw face of Battleship and a westerly face which is accessed from the Middle Fork of Mineral Creek. How did a slide from a SW aspect slide to the western face and that far? From the trees, left of the western face or behind the ridge in front of this view?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Alpinord; 01-27-2019 at 09:18 AM.
    Best regards, Terry
    (Direct Contact is best vs PMs)

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cravenmorhead View Post
    Yeah, good work skier 1. I expect the odds of bringing someone back with CPR are quite a bit better if they have a pulse but aren't breathing, vs. no pulse no breath?


    There was no CPR done in this incident.



    If they have a pulse what are you doing CPR for?

    If the patient is not breathing but has a pulse, check the airway and provide rescue breaths. No chest compressions are needed, since the heart is working. Please do not give chest compressions to someone with a pulse.

    If the patient is not breathing and does not have a pulse, THEN you begin compressions and rescue breaths, aka CPR.




    But yes, way higher chance of survival if the patient still has a pulse.
    I think the potato gun proved the stability.

  12. #12
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    She dug quickly removing about a meter of soft storm snow before revealing Skier 2. Skier 2 was unconscious and not breathing but had a pulse. Skier 1 stimulated breathing and continued to dig out Skier 2. Skier 2 began spontaneous breaths slowly coming around until he could stand up.
    Pretty cloudy choice of terminology is all. By Stimulating Breathing I suppose that could mean yelling, re-positioning the head/neck or even clearing an airway obstruction.

    Nevertheless, a scary story with a happy outcome. Skier 1 kept her shit together in a very stressful situation. I would be interested to know her medical background (if any).

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ODHGABFE View Post
    There was no CPR done in this incident.



    If they have a pulse what are you doing CPR for?

    If the patient is not breathing but has a pulse, check the airway and provide rescue breaths. No chest compressions are needed, since the heart is working. Please do not give chest compressions to someone with a pulse.

    If the patient is not breathing and does not have a pulse, THEN you begin compressions and rescue breaths, aka CPR.


    This is undoubtedly true, however, we had interesting chat with the EMT instructor at Fire Practice on Wednesday.

    In the more basic courses they are emphasizing compression. In an "if in doubt - pump" kind of way. Apparently studies are showing that in the classic untrained/semi-trained bystander scenario - people are reluctant to do compression even when they would produce positive results. Basically, people in a panic misjudge their ability to feel a pulse, but have the "DONT COMPRESS WITH A PULSE" ingrained in their brain - so they don't.


    I know it sure was ingrained in my earlier training. I thought the change in thinking was interesting, even if not relevant in this particular scenario. I could see in this kind of incident - cold fingers, cold body, panic, etc.- missing a weak pulse and I don't think I would fault someone for "unneeded compressions" - not doing them when there wasn't a pulse would probably be fatal error.

  14. #14
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    Kinda what I was thinking too. Yeah, they kept their sh*t together in a sketch situation, but why the hell were they there in the first place?

    It was a "considerable" day right after a major storm cycle and yet, they were ascending up a major gully with hang fire above them. They got lucky.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mudfoot View Post
    300 meters before it hit them and then another 500 to the bottom, which is a steep sided gully. That's a 2,600+ foot slide into a classic terrain trap. Lucky they didn't get swept all the way to the bottom.

  15. #15
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    WAY TO GO SKIER 1!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by LHutz Esq View Post
    This is undoubtedly true, however, we had interesting chat with the EMT instructor at Fire Practice on Wednesday.

    In the more basic courses they are emphasizing compression. In an "if in doubt - pump" kind of way. Apparently studies are showing that in the classic untrained/semi-trained bystander scenario - people are reluctant to do compression even when they would produce positive results. Basically, people in a panic misjudge their ability to feel a pulse, but have the "DONT COMPRESS WITH A PULSE" ingrained in their brain - so they don't.

    I know it sure was ingrained in my earlier training. I thought the change in thinking was interesting, even if not relevant in this particular scenario. I could see in this kind of incident - cold fingers, cold body, panic, etc.- missing a weak pulse and I don't think I would fault someone for "unneeded compressions" - not doing them when there wasn't a pulse would probably be fatal error.
    The focus on compression first (CAB) in CPR is twofold.

    1. People don't want to do mouth-to-mouth on strangers and they found people were doing nothing at all, so comrpessions were focused on and lay rescuers CPR is taught as compression only.

    2. CPR courses are not created with avalanche victims as their primary. The reason that the vast majority of adults suffer cardiac arrest is due to a heart attack, so the heart stops but there is considerable oxygen in the blood. The goal is to temporarily support the heart and brain by circulating that oxygenated blood and chest compressions actually create some ventilation.

    Avalanche victims usually suffer cardiac arrest due to asphyxiation (there are 3 types) so their blood is oxygen depleted. You have to get oxygen into the blood (and CO2 out) with breaths AND circulate it with compressions. (In this case Skier 1 made it so Skier 2 could breath again before Skier 2's heart stopped - nick of time!!!).

    So, take a pro CPR class and carry a CPR barrier in your BC med kit. I carry and recommend a numask because it is lighter/smaller/easier than a facemask in the cold mountains:
    https://www.rescue-essentials.com/numask-cpr-mask/
    https://www.chinookmed.com/01632/num...r-kit-iom.html
    http://www.numask.com/

    Part 2: Compression with Pulse Bad? Sometimes in avalanches...
    Well generally unneeded compressions aren't good and the patient complains about it... but that is better than having a brain dead patient who needed compression and didn't get them.

    But you mentioned cold body and cold fingers. There is a special case when dealing with avalanche victims who were buried longer than an hour: they are assumed to be hypothermic. Hypothermic patients can have very slow very weak pulses, so we teach people to take a carotid pulse for a full minute with an adequately warm/sensitive finger because they might have a weak pulse of 30. WE DO NOT WANT TO DO COMPRESSIONS if they have a pulse because hypothermia also makes the heart very "irritable" so compressions might send them from a HR of 30, which was maintaining them in their metabolic icebox, into a lethal arrhythmia and then CPR is definitely required! This is why we move hypothermic patients very gently and recheck their vitals frequently. HOWEVER, we also don't want a rescuer to fail to provide compressions on someone who needs it (is pulseless) just because they may be hypothermic! Is the pulse you "feel" in the patient their own? Or was that your pulsing fingertips? (That happens!)
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bovine View Post
    Kinda what I was thinking too. Yeah, they kept their sh*t together in a sketch situation, but why the hell were they there in the first place?

    It was a "considerable" day right after a major storm cycle and yet, they were ascending up a major gully with hang fire above them. They got lucky.
    As a LG guide used to say to me: "Keep moving! No picnicking under that!"
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  17. #17
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    I’ve only taken BLS CPR for the last...maybe 15 years, so yeah, ventilation.
    Don’t give up until.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Summit View Post
    WAY TO GO SKIER 1!!!



    The focus on compression first (CAB) in CPR is twofold.

    1. People don't want to do mouth-to-mouth on strangers and they found people were doing nothing at all, so comrpessions were focused on and lay rescuers CPR is taught as compression only.

    2. CPR courses are not created with avalanche victims as their primary. The reason that the vast majority of adults suffer cardiac arrest is due to a heart attack, so the heart stops but there is considerable oxygen in the blood. The goal is to temporarily support the heart and brain by circulating that oxygenated blood and chest compressions actually create some ventilation.

    Avalanche victims usually suffer cardiac arrest due to asphyxiation (there are 3 types) so their blood is oxygen depleted. You have to get oxygen into the blood (and CO2 out) with breaths AND circulate it with compressions. (In this case Skier 1 made it so Skier 2 could breath again before Skier 2's heart stopped - nick of time!!!).

    So, take a pro CPR class and carry a CPR barrier in your BC med kit. I carry and recommend a numask because it is lighter/smaller/easier than a facemask in the cold mountains:
    https://www.rescue-essentials.com/numask-cpr-mask/
    https://www.chinookmed.com/01632/num...r-kit-iom.html
    http://www.numask.com/

    Part 2: Compression with Pulse Bad? Sometimes in avalanches...
    Well generally unneeded compressions aren't good and the patient complains about it... but that is better than having a brain dead patient who needed compression and didn't get them.

    But you mentioned cold body and cold fingers. There is a special case when dealing with avalanche victims who were buried longer than an hour: they are assumed to be hypothermic. Hypothermic patients can have very slow very weak pulses, so we teach people to take a carotid pulse for a full minute with an adequately warm/sensitive finger because they might have a weak pulse of 30. WE DO NOT WANT TO DO COMPRESSIONS if they have a pulse because hypothermia also makes the heart very "irritable" so compressions might send them from a HR of 30, which was maintaining them in their metabolic icebox, into a lethal arrhythmia and then CPR is definitely required! This is why we move hypothermic patients very gently and recheck their vitals frequently. HOWEVER, we also don't want a rescuer to fail to provide compressions on someone who needs it (is pulseless) just because they may be hypothermic! Is the pulse you "feel" in the patient their own? Or was that your pulsing fingertips? (That happens!)
    Thanks!! Way more info than I could provide.
    I think the potato gun proved the stability.

  19. #19
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    Helpful info, thanks Summit.

  20. #20
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    Update:

    Close call for 2 backcountry skiers caught in avalanche near Silverton

    Per the article Skier 1 is male and Skier 2 is the female. It clears up where they were. East of the peak vs west. Updated CAIC Report.

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    Best regards, Terry
    (Direct Contact is best vs PMs)

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  21. #21
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    ^^^ Jeez. Chick was a badass in the first report, let alone this one. That's as close as they come to having a bad ending...

  22. #22
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    A few more detailed pics and clearer report in the CAIC writeup that can be found here: https://avalanche.state.co.us/accidents/colorado/

    Good thing they weren't up into the forested part of the path when the natural came down. Heroic rescue!

  23. #23
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    27 degrees, NW facing natural.

    There is so much of this incident that gives me the heebies.

    Fucking insane in so many ways.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by CAIC Report
    Skier 2 began probing, but her probe came apart as she pulled it from the snow.
    This jumped out at me. It means that most likely, she did not get her probe fully assembled properly before probing. It highlights the importance of practicing with your gear, all of it, not just your beacon.
    However she was still able to perform a successful rescue despite not having a probe strike, good on her!
    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!

  25. #25
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    I still have goosebumps from reading that report.

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