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  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meadow Skipper View Post
    IMO that’s mostly because thoughtful discussion usually gets run over by “What a bunch of fuck ups!!! I wouldn’t never have done that. Morons! They shouldn’t of never been there!” style of “critique.”
    Sometimes the truth hurts, and sometimes people deserve to have their decisions criticized harshly.
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  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by glademaster View Post
    Sometimes the truth hurts, and sometimes people deserve to have their decisions criticized harshly.
    And sometimes a reasoned, calm discussion of exactly what happened, and (most importantly) why it happened can serve the general audience.

    This has been a pretty pronounced shift in wildland fire incident reviews. It has been difficult and there have been some misfires, but the shift has been from finger-pointing and blaming to why a particular incident happened. Where appropriate, I guess - I mean, sometimes people have fucked the dog and deserve ridicule, but that really doesn't further learning for people that want to know how to avoid fucking up.
    And I guess that I just don't know

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by glademaster View Post
    Sometimes the truth hurts, and sometimes people deserve to have their decisions criticized harshly.
    How much “hurt” does a person deserve? So if you were part of a decision that leads to a friends death- that in itself isn’t enough hurt?

    The rest of us get to add some more hurt to make sure the “deserved amount” of pain is achieved?

    Does criticizing harshly achieve anything?

    Other than
    - giving the critiquer a false sense of superiority
    - giving others a mistaken belief that there is such a thing as an infallible decision maker
    - ensuring that fewer and fewer people will speak up in the future making it harder to understand what led to the poor decisions in the first place?

    That someone shouldn’t have made that decision is pretty obvious- any idiot can deduce that from the fact that the incident happened.

    Why they did so- can only come from those that made the decision

  4. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by glademaster View Post
    Sometimes the truth hurts, and sometimes people deserve to have their decisions criticized harshly.
    You really are a fucking douchebag arent you? Why do decisions have to be criticized harshly? How about reasonable, learning discussions? I know in my 30 some years of backcountry skiing I have made some stupid decisions. During my S&R stint I have dug out the bodies of others who had made similar decisions. I sure as hell didnt need to criticize them harshly, instead, how about being sympathetic and having rational discussions of mistakes made and lessons learned?
    Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield: Oh, I'm sorry. Did I break your concentration?

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meadow Skipper View Post
    IMO that’s mostly because thoughtful discussion usually gets run over by “What a bunch of fuck ups!!! I wouldn’t never have done that. Morons! They shouldn’t of never been there!” style of “critique.”
    There was a post here someone made, I think adrenalated, and it really stuck with me. I'm too lazy to search for it but it was essentially "I don't tour with people who do that [armchair QB / blame / call people in avy accidents stupid], nobody is above making mistakes. Instead when you see an accident like this, you should ask yourself 'what should I remember from this that will help me be safer when I go out?' and apply it to your future touring."

    That may be a bit of a loose paraphrase job on my part. But I definitely took that to heart.

    e: maybe thinking of this and merging with some other post. Either way, the whole discussion in that thread below is relevant here.

    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    I think that many people that hand out judgement of avalanche victims are desperately trying to convince themselves that they are not capable of making the same mistakes. As you said, these people scare me. I will not tour with them.
    Last edited by mall walker; 02-15-2019 at 03:41 PM.

  6. #56
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    Actually, in this case, they were idiots. A friend of mine who I tour with and has been skiing big lines in the Juans for years saw this couple up there on the day they got into trouble. In his words, he said, "They were a shit show waiting to happen."

    If you look at the CAIC report and see their ascent route, its pretty clear that they were skinning right up a terrain trap gully with massive hang fire above them. I've skied in this same area. It's not too hard to route find up a much safer area, such as a densely treed spine.

    No arm-chair qb-ing, just common sense.

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by mall walker View Post
    There was a post here someone made, I think adrenalated, and it really stuck with me. I'm too lazy to search for it but it was essentially "I don't tour with people who do that [armchair QB / blame / call people in avy accidents stupid], nobody is above making mistakes. Instead when you see an accident like this, you should ask yourself 'what should I remember from this that will help me be safer when I go out?' and apply it to your future touring."

    That may be a bit of a loose paraphrase job on my part. But I definitely took that to heart.

    e: maybe thinking of this and merging with some other post. Either way, the whole discussion in that thread below is relevant here.
    I definitely think it's important to think about every accident with a honest, sincere, "could this have been me?" analysis. Just like when you get done with a touring day, you should always ask "what did we do right? what did we do wrong? did we get it done or did we get away with it? at what point were we in the most danger today?"....

    When you say they were idiots or stupid, I think it makes it much easier to shortcut that honest analysis. After all, you're not an idiot, right? So clearly you couldn't make the same mistake, because they were idiots and you are not.

    This accident is a great example. Calling them stupid is an easy out. Maybe they are stupid, I don't know, I don't know them. If they are stupid I imagine one of their friends has probably told them that by now. Not my place to anonymously call them stupid on the internet. It's not productive.

    I would agree that they had very poor judgement in their route selection. So instead of explaining that poor judgement by making an estimation of their intelligence, I try to look at what factors might have led to this poor judgement, and what lessons can we take away from that?
    1) being aware of overhead hazard from multiple aspects
    2) being aware that winds at ridgetop/in start zones may be blowing from a different direction.
    3) recent avalanches are a sign of recent instability, not of reduced hazard
    4) not falling into the Familiarity heuristic trap

    Would I personally have chosen this route on this day? No, I would not have. But have I made the mistake of not considering all possible overhead hazards? You betcha. Have I made the mistake of not fully considering how wind may be loading terrain in inobvious directions? Absolutely. Have thought that recent debris made a slope safe? No, but I've heard people use that as justification before. Have I fallen into the Familiarity trap? Shit yea. I've not made these mistakes on the magnitude that led me to skin directly up a major avalanche path in conditions as unstable as this, but I've certainly made many of the same mistakes and can learn something.

    Even if you can't fully understand the thought process that led a group to make the choices they did, you can take away valuable lessons.
    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!

  8. #58
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    Good post, Adrenelated.

    Does their ascent route look stupid with 20/20 hindsight? Yes. Could I see myself being there, seeing the debris and thinking it all slid and was therefore a good route? Maybe, I don't know, I wasn't there. It's pretty rare that I can't find a lesson or two or twenty in any accident report.

  9. #59
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    This had a lot of resemblance to the Kendall Mountain incident a few years back. With a better outcome. Possibly including looking at trees as areas of protection.

    Everyone makes mistakes, good on them for their reaction to the slide and for getting themselves out of there.

  10. #60
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    Everyone makes mistakes
    I guess this is the type of attitude I don't understand. Being resigned to major fuck ups seems like a way to get somebody dead. If you are OK with that I suppose it is your business but I suggest being honest with your touring partners about it.

  11. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    I guess this is the type of attitude I don't understand. Being resigned to major fuck ups seems like a way to get somebody dead. If you are OK with that I suppose it is your business but I suggest being honest with your touring partners about it.
    It's just honest. The only people that I can honestly say haven't made a mistake, whether they know it or not, only ski ski areas or sub-20 degree slopes at all times. Everyone else has made an error in judgement at some point.

  12. #62
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    I agree. Myself included...hundreds most likely. I'm just saying that we need to collectively hold ourselves to a high standard.

    I'm saying this in the context of recent incidents, this one included. Adrenelated did a great job of identifying some potential errors. In my opinion, there has been a rash of experienced groups making some pretty basic errors and I don't understand it.

    I really think there is space in our sport for some objective critique of decision making. Internet fourms are not the best place. In other activities I have been/am involved in (kayaking/paragliding/climbing), accident reports are complied by a user based organization. In backcountry skiing, it is usually from the forecasting center (I believe?). I find this to be a bit strange.

    There are a lot of people with a lot of passion and knowledge for avalanche education. I think it is coming up short. We have to many incidents. I don't know what the answer is but collectively I think it is time to consider changing things up.

  13. #63
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    Let me be clear here - I find "well, everybody makes mistakes" to be almost as dismissive as "well, they're idiots." Anytime the entire party is caught in a slide, and someone is fully buried, you done fucked up. We can't brush that aside with a quick "well, shit happens." Shit didn't "happen" you made critical judgement errors that created a really bad situation.

    There's a line here and it's a tough one to walk appropriately, especially in an anonymous internet setting.

    I think Foggy is onto something here, and while I don't know what the answer is either, something that immediately came to mind is the regular accident analysis column in Rock & Ice
    https://rockandice.com/climbing-tips...ing-accidents/
    I think the forecast centers do a fantastic job investigating and providing facts about fatal avalanche accidents, and often have good analysis along with the reports, but not always. There's rarely much analysis in their reports on these "near miss" type of accidents though.
    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!

  14. #64
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    Accident reconstruction in aviation may be useful here. When finding out what went wrong becomes more important than anything else you have to drop the idea of blaming people. Humans will make mistakes so preventing harm means finding out why harmful (or potentially harmful) mistakes occur. There's no room for blaming individual humans if your goal is to improve education or prevent similar mistakes by others. The blame game is counterproductive because it puts people on the defensive, leading to incomplete or inaccurate recounting of events (including thought processes that led to decisions).

    In professional environments there will be people whose job is to investigate and find the truth and they are trained to avoid blame in order to get there. In amateur activities we lack that for the most part. Accident reports go as far as they can, but it's very hard to imagine that the thought of public shaming and blaming people for "being stupid" doesn't get in the way of learning what people were really thinking after one of these incidents.

    Public shaming is an error in judgement--it's like making a mistake in avalanche terrain in that both are mistakes that might be prevented through better education. Unlike avy terrain mistakes, public shaming decisions are made in safety and with forethought and should be easy to prevent: just don't hit send.

  15. #65
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    jono nailed it.

    This back and forth about “Everybody makes mistakes” - it’s one thing to use that phrase as a shrug-off, but entirely another to use it to reassure someone afterwards and encourage them to tell their story so that others can learn. The problem we’ve run into here is that the phrase is both a) true but also b) used to gloss over fuck ups. IMO the initial use in this thread was closer to a). Maybe we can move beyond debating the phrase here.
    And I guess that I just don't know

  16. #66
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    Yeah, I wasn't trying to give a free pass, but the "that was stupid" knee jerk reaction isn't productive either. I think most everyone commenting is on the same page as that...

    If there was one thing I wish the accident reports could add, it would be the decision making of the party involved. This one is actually one of the few to give much mention of that. It sure seems like the main factor was the previous slide leading to a false sense of security in their route choice.

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    I definitely think it's important to think about every accident with a honest, sincere, "could this have been me?" analysis. Just like when you get done with a touring day, you should always ask "what did we do right? what did we do wrong? did we get it done or did we get away with it? at what point were we in the most danger today?"....

    ...

    Not my place to anonymously call them stupid on the internet. It's not productive.
    This is the big thing to me: it is unproductive to call them stupid (possibly counterproductive, to the extent that this distancing of yourself from their mistakes makes you feel immune to them), while it is very productive to incorporate the lessons from others' accidents into your decision-making system.

  18. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by whipski View Post
    Here's a pic taken outside the Opus Hut sauna on the backside of Battleship Mtn
    Attachment 269036
    Umm statistical probability of risk and consequences?
    I spent the last 3 days researching the statistical probability of this happening again. It did not.
    off your knees Louie

  19. #69
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    3 days is a pretty small dataset, BFD. You may need more research--also good idea to check into influencing factors, just to cover all your bases.

  20. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    I guess this is the type of attitude I don't understand. Being resigned to major fuck ups seems like a way to get somebody dead. If you are OK with that I suppose it is your business but I suggest being honest with your touring partners about it.
    Wondering about how honest I am with touring partners I am sure is a great way to improve analyses of these things, lol.

    As for re-inventing accident reports, there's considered discussion in a number of places already. But, there's really no one factor I would zero in on in this case as particularly new. This is similar actually to reading ANAM where sometimes there's a new wrinkle and once in a great while even a potential issue with some type of gear, but normally it's more of the same. Obviously here and for climbing accidents sticking one's neck out in multiple ways can heighten risk, but is something many people get away with for quite some time. But there's nothing stopping someone from making brilliant new insights in this same thread if they think they have them.

  21. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    I definitely think it's important to think about every accident with a honest, sincere, "could this have been me?" analysis. Just like when you get done with a touring day, you should always ask "what did we do right? what did we do wrong? did we get it done or did we get away with it? at what point were we in the most danger today?"....

    When you say they were idiots or stupid, I think it makes it much easier to shortcut that honest analysis. After all, you're not an idiot, right? So clearly you couldn't make the same mistake, because they were idiots and you are not.

    This accident is a great example. Calling them stupid is an easy out. Maybe they are stupid, I don't know, I don't know them. If they are stupid I imagine one of their friends has probably told them that by now. Not my place to anonymously call them stupid on the internet. It's not productive.

    I would agree that they had very poor judgement in their route selection. So instead of explaining that poor judgement by making an estimation of their intelligence, I try to look at what factors might have led to this poor judgement, and what lessons can we take away from that?
    1) being aware of overhead hazard from multiple aspects
    2) being aware that winds at ridgetop/in start zones may be blowing from a different direction.
    3) recent avalanches are a sign of recent instability, not of reduced hazard
    4) not falling into the Familiarity heuristic trap

    Would I personally have chosen this route on this day? No, I would not have. But have I made the mistake of not considering all possible overhead hazards? You betcha. Have I made the mistake of not fully considering how wind may be loading terrain in inobvious directions? Absolutely. Have thought that recent debris made a slope safe? No, but I've heard people use that as justification before. Have I fallen into the Familiarity trap? Shit yea. I've not made these mistakes on the magnitude that led me to skin directly up a major avalanche path in conditions as unstable as this, but I've certainly made many of the same mistakes and can learn something.

    Even if you can't fully understand the thought process that led a group to make the choices they did, you can take away valuable lessons.
    This is a very, very strong post. Definitive even.

  22. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    (Many truths... truncated to get to these learning bits)

    I try to look at what factors might have led to this poor judgement, and what lessons can we take away from that?
    1) being aware of overhead hazard from multiple aspects
    2) being aware that winds at ridgetop/in start zones may be blowing from a different direction.
    3) recent avalanches are a sign of recent instability, not of reduced hazard
    4) not falling into the Familiarity heuristic trap
    Quote Originally Posted by goldenboy View Post
    If there was one thing I wish the accident reports could add, it would be the decision making of the party involved. This one is actually one of the few to give much mention of that. It sure seems like the main factor was the previous slide leading to a false sense of security in their route choice.
    I keep thinking about the fact that they chose to stay on the debris path. It's definitely less important than what adrenelated listed, but wouldn't it be both safer and easier to be go next to (and above) it if you've concluded that it's not a red flag? Lots of assumptions about other observations/conditions required (which disqualify it as applicable to this incident) but I'm curious if anyone would ever see an older debris pile as evidence of where not to be and just give it a wide berth? Lou Dawson's pics from Sheep Creek come to mind--it's just relatively rare to get the direct evidence of a runout zone like that as opposed to gauging by flora etc.

  23. #73
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    I keep wondering what effects the fall 'Ski Stoke' films have on decision making (including my own). The last few (including TGR's) I've seen have shown skiers and boarders setting off sluffs and avalanches, out-skiing them and in them to the hoots of the audience. Seems like for some, the impression might be that 'I can out run that' or 'avalanches don't look that bad because it's just light snow', 'looks rad', etc...
    Last edited by Alpinord; 02-20-2019 at 08:45 AM.
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  24. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by jono View Post
    I keep thinking about the fact that they chose to stay on the debris path. It's definitely less important than what adrenelated listed, but wouldn't it be both safer and easier to be go next to (and above) it if you've concluded that it's not a red flag? Lots of assumptions about other observations/conditions required (which disqualify it as applicable to this incident) but I'm curious if anyone would ever see an older debris pile as evidence of where not to be and just give it a wide berth? Lou Dawson's pics from Sheep Creek come to mind--it's just relatively rare to get the direct evidence of a runout zone like that as opposed to gauging by flora etc.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    sometimes avie paths are the best approach. conditions dictate where it is safe to be. You have to be experienced enough to make the decision. Sometimes we make mistakes while gaining experience.
    i was out backcountry skiing this day in the southern san juans. probably pretty similar weather. A member of our group who is an avid kiter brought up the wind that was forecasted to be blowing 50 by 2PM. We discussed this in our route choice. When we finished our tour around 3:30 we were in a whiteout. There was another car in the lot when we returned. I have met this person and knew he often toured alone. Conditions had deteriorated enough that I felt concerned enough to call someone and get his number to check on him. Rapid wind loading happens and they could probably not even see the top of the ridge to asses the danger they were putting themselves in. thankfully this had a good outcome.
    off your knees Louie

  25. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by BFD View Post
    sometimes avie paths are the best approach. conditions dictate where it is safe to be. You have to be experienced enough to make the decision. Sometimes we make mistakes while gaining experience.
    I think the problem is that the vast majority of the avalanche safety mistakes all of us make are not revealed by consequences. Only by critically analyzing each day can we recognize our mistakes and hope to change.

    Too many people just internalize the lack of consequence despite the (poor) decision as (false) experience: confirmation that they didn't make a mistake... and then sometimes they get bit... as perhaps was the case in this incident.
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

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