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  1. #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by Summit View Post
    Or one could ski an avalanche chute solo on a black day cuz... human factors: https://www.instagram.com/p/BuuinCFFoc5/
    its one thing to do it, its another to blog about it.

    kids these days.

  2. #127
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    Fritz seemed like a pretty nice guy when I've met him. He's got some guide books out, seems to know his shit. I don't see how shit talking him in this thread is really necessary, (especially since today is his birthday according to social media). Is he the same Fritz that posts here?

  3. #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredgnar View Post
    Fritz seemed like a pretty nice guy when I've met him. He's got some guide books out, seems to know his shit. I don't see how shit talking him in this thread is really necessary, (especially since today is his birthday according to social media). Is he the same Fritz that posts here?
    Nope. Fritz Sperry was/is killingcokes, but to my knowledge hasn't posted here in a long time.

    Summit, did I understand you correctly, did the slope he skied really slide less than a day later?
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin

  4. #129
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredgnar View Post
    Fritz seemed like a pretty nice guy when I've met him. He's got some guide books out, seems to know his shit. I don't see how shit talking him in this thread is really necessary, (especially since today is his birthday according to social media).
    He (used to) post here as Killing Cokes. I (used to) ski with him. I might disagree with your characterization of him on several fronts, but that is no more relevant than it being his birthday. Only on the avalanche "knowing what he is doing" part is it relevant. Which he clearly doesn't.

    It is relevant in that it fits in with the points of who/how someone might need rescue on an extreme/high day by soloing an avalanche chute because they imagine they can out-think extreme conditions in avalanche terrain that we haven't seen in 100 years rather than the prudence expressed by several. And the situation it would force anyone who would consider rescue to evaluate, as we have identified we cannot us the usual approach in unusual circumstances.

    Luckily, Fritz got away with it (barely). Sadly, PA didn't.
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  5. #130
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danno View Post
    Summit, did I understand you correctly, did the slope he skied really slide less than a day later?
    3/7 morning Peak 1, Tenmile Peak, and many other areas nearby slid historic with the forecast at extreme.
    While he was skiing J, multiple chutes on Royal slid (and Jones Gulch slid causing the accident in this thread). Tons of naturals below, near, and above treeline around the county.
    That night, J slid. It no longer looks like a J, more like a high heeled boot.
    According to him, he made a good decision, conditions just changed after he skied it.
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  6. #131
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    As far as getting into mellower terrain,, was it even possible to move on slopes 20 degrees and less with the depth of snow last friday, two weeks ago at Wolf and Purg after their two day 50 inch totals, all blues were single bobsled tracks to other blacks or groomersClick image for larger version. 

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    you know there ain't no devil,
    there's just God when he's drunk---- Tom Waits

  7. #132
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    Well, Fritz wasn't guiding clients, or dragging anyone else up there with him. Looked like he had a great run and was psyched on it. Not saying that he didn't get lucky and not saying that I think that he made a good decision there. I hate confirmation bias as I recognize that it is a lot of what is wrong with the backcountry community and it has been that way for a long time.

    However, it doesn't relate to this thread, and makes it seem like you guys just have an axe that you've been waiting to grind with the guy.

  8. #133
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    Jones Pass Fatality

    Quote Originally Posted by Summit View Post
    He (used to) post here as Killing Cokes. I (used to) ski with him. I might disagree with your characterization of him on several fronts, but that is no more relevant than it being his birthday. Only on the avalanche "knowing what he is doing" part is it relevant. Which he clearly doesn't.

    It is relevant in that it fits in with the points of who/how someone might need rescue on an extreme/high day by soloing an avalanche chute because they imagine they can out-think extreme conditions in avalanche terrain that we haven't seen in 100 years rather than the prudence expressed by several. And the situation it would force anyone who would consider rescue to evaluate, as we have identified we cannot us the usual approach in unusual circumstances.

    Luckily, Fritz got away with it (barely). Sadly, PA didn't.
    I guess he knew that itd be at least another 8 hours before it was ready to slide. ;-(

    Seriously youd think that hed find some humility and question his decision after the thing slid big and cleared new path at the bottom, but nope sticking to his guns or his ego.

    Ive got no AXE to grind other than it sure is role modeling shitty protocol and Id rather not see him or his followers join the statistics.


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    Last edited by Kinnikinnick; 03-12-2019 at 05:22 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Benny Profane View Post
    Keystone is fucking lame. But, deadly.

  9. #134
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    Thanks to all for moving this thread in an overall more positive/productive direction, and apologies for my earlier cuntery.

    A discussion about alpha angles came up recently among another group of friends. Summit can probably confirm/deny whether alpha angles are currently taught in recreational avy classes, but they aren't in either my 06/07 AIARE 1 handbook nor my 14/15 AIARE 2 handbook. I also dug into my 2006 edition of The Avalanche Handbook and found not really that much discussion about the topic, but did find this one quote: "Values of alpha for extreme runout vary from about 15* to 50* in most avalanche terrain. However, the mean value and standard deviation of alpha is different for each range of mountains due to variations in terrain. Therefore, individual ranges have runout distances that differ greatly." There was also a lot of other text that can basically be summed up as, it depends on a lot of things, the exact terrain configuration, the type of snow, the bed surface, etc. It also even had a comment about observing vegetation clues is a generally more reliable indication of historic runout than alpha angle.

    We really like to reduce problems down to really simple forms, such as "don't go in or below avalanche terrain." I'd agree that's technically correct, but as others have said, the reality of putting that in practice in the field is just not that simple, especially in extremely unusual conditions like we've had for the last week. A lot of stuff that usually most people would not consider to be avalanche terrain - ie, well beyond the established historic runouts - suddenly was avalanche terrain this past week. Thankfully not many people were caught, but I'm quite positive many people traveled unknowingly through avalanche terrain and were exposed to overhead hazard and didn't have any idea.

    As that all relates to this accident - there's really too many things that we don't know at this point to say why the guides thought it was OK to travel in the terrain they did that day. I imagine the final CAIC report will answer many of these questions. That said, although this avalanche did run to it's historic extent and destroyed many mature trees, I'm pretty sure the guides would have known it is avalanche terrain. It is a pretty obvious avalanche path and one that has always scared me. I'm sure Danno is also correct that they thought they were in a safe place (otherwise they wouldn't have been there) and Summit is quite correct that it obviously was not an appropriate place to travel that day (as evidenced by a massive slide that killed a person and destroyed many trees).

    As I said, this particular path has always scared me. I've skied it once or twice. On many occasions I've seen the cat operation running clients through it on days when I wanted nothing to do with it. Which always made me wonder, what do the guides know about it that I don't? Have they done mitigation work in it? I don't know and it never changed my decision making regarding skiing that path, but maybe it had an impact on the guides choice to go there last Thursday? From a client experience perspective, it makes a lot of sense to ski it as it deposits skiers nicely at a point to take them downvalley at the end of the day vs. riding down in the cat from the upper zones.

    The configuration of the path is also deceiving. The main start zone is a steep face above treeline. But, the logical entrance from the cat road is from a bench right at treeline, and you enter from the side, a hundred yards or so away from the alpine start zone. You can enter it at a spot that's not that steep (probably 30-35 degrees), doesn't really have a convexity, and isn't particularly windloaded. It leads into a long funnel and you end up out below the big alpine start zone above. At the bottom is a bench, when it does slide the debris usually seems to stop on the bench, and about halfway across, mature trees (used to) stand. Then there's another short pitch down to the summer/cat road and the valley floor.

    In other words, it's for sure a big path, but one that you can probably get away with a lot of the time. We'll probably find out from the final report, but I'm guessing that one or more of the group was probably standing in the mature trees on the bench. Under most conditions in CO, that would not be 100% safe, but also not that out of line with typical travel protocol. On Thursday, it was nowhere near a safe spot as the avalanche completely overran the bench and the second pitch below. I can understand how someone that is in that terrain daily would fall back on their usual protocols that keep them safe, unfortunately, conditions dictated a change in protocol that apparently did not happen.

    Before the slide even happened on Thursday, there was a Facebook post from a guy that remote triggered a slide on Jones (opposite aspect) during his morning dawn patrol. It got me thinking about the whole area, as I had been there just the previous Sunday (also a High danger day). I feel we made good decisions that day, and though we crossed under some big paths, natural slides were not yet hitting valley floors and we skied south facing slopes less than 30 degrees all day without incident. I thought about how conditions had changed between Sunday and Thursday and decided that I wouldn't have wanted to go to Jones Pass at all on Thursday. The size of avalanches had changed, slides were hitting valley bottom, and you can't even get to the Jones trailhead much less up anywhere near any of the safe, low angle terrain without crossing through the "historic" extent of several avalanche paths. One of which is the site of this avalanche, which I heard about later that afternoon.

    As for the forecast, I do actually think that the CAIC had the rating correct with High for the Front Range zone, rather than Extreme. A rating of Extreme specifies "Natural and human triggered avalanches are certain." That was true in the central zones and neighboring Vail/Summit, where many/most paths were running naturally to historic extents. The Front Range zone was also producing historic avalanches, but they were generally human triggered (the D4 on Bethel, the slide in Disney, this accident, etc). Natural activity was not as widespread. However I also think the rating was kinda irrelevant. To me, the most important part of the forecast wasn't the danger rating, it was the size and distribution of the Persistent Slab problem. All aspects, all elevations, Very Large to Historic in size. THAT is the part that terrified me. Also, I'll note that part of the forecast has not changed - only the likelihood of triggering.
    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. #135
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    Great post. Thx

  11. #136
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    I have no knowledge about this operation, slide path or people. However I want to post the following account of a close call I had a few years ago. I think it is relevant to this accident as it could help others with some insight into the thought process behind how an accident like this may have occurred.

    March 14 2012, skier KC Deane and I arrive at Baker early that am with the intent of doing a road lap before the ski area opened. We knew there was a very deep persistent weak layer that had the potential to produce historic results. As anyone that has spent time doing road laps at Baker will tell you, you are in very large old growth trees the entire run, until you reach the bottom where you have a short flat exit along a open creek bed, then back into old growth before you reach the highway. This morning we decided to stop and shoot a pic on our way down. While setting up the photo I head an avalanche but assumed it was from the access road to the upper lodge being mitigated with explosives. We took our photo then proceeded down. When we arrived to the normal exit via the creek drainage, we where greeted to debris 30-45 feet deep that demolished several hundred feet of old growth timber in dead flat terrain towards the highway. The debris was still soft. The slide have traveled over a half mile from the base of the slope that released along the creek drainage along damn near flat terrain well under 15 degrees. My point here is, that from this experience I learned that when you are dealing with truly historic avalanche conditions slides can and will travel much farther than a very experienced backcountry traveler would even begin to expect. This is also evident by many of the historic slides in CO last week.

    It is important to remember no one ever goes out in to the mountains expecting to get caught in a slide, and the ones that do get you are usually the ones you didn't see coming. My best guess, is that is exactly what happened here. I doubt anyone involved ever thought that slide path was going to go as large as it did. Did it take Hans out in a location where he was well out of what they assumed the historic maximum of the slide path to be? I dont know? I do know anytime the avalanche danger reached the upper levels of considerable, there is no way I am going to shoot on slope, or position myself bellow skiers and I have doubts that was the intentions here, but without knowing all of the facts its hard to say and not enough information is available to determine if he was really bellow the skiers or just lower on the mountain in what they had assumed was a safe location.

    I also want to say I know NOTHING about this operation or its "guides" as I had never heard of them before. The following is not in relation to this accident, but a general observation of the sate of guiding in the U.S.

    In general I despise the fact that anyone can call themselves a guide in the US with very little if any certification. This is a major problem in the US. I've lost track of how many operations Ive gone out with in the U. where the so called guides where grossly unqualified and the operations lacked basic safety requirements like mandating all guests carry avy gear. So any time an accident does involve a commercial operation in the US my first question is how qualified where the "guides"? I never have this questions in Canada or most parts of Europe.

  12. #137
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    Quote Originally Posted by Summit View Post
    Thanks for that.

    There are two other Ironing Boards in the immediate area, one just N of Grizzly going W, the other farther down in Atlantic Bowl on LP near the natural pipe.
    Ha - add in the more common modern ironing board on the e ridge of P1, and its a wonder how anybody even ends up at the right TH, let alone folks dont get into more trouble with broad statements like "the ironing board is generally pretty safe".

  13. #138
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post

    As I said, this particular path has always scared me. I've skied it once or twice. On many occasions I've seen the cat operation running clients through it on days when I wanted nothing to do with it. Which always made me wonder, what do the guides know about it that I don't? Have they done mitigation work in it? I don't know and it never changed my decision making regarding skiing that path, but maybe it had an impact on the guides choice to go there last Thursday? From a client experience perspective, it makes a lot of sense to ski it as it deposits skiers nicely at a point to take them downvalley at the end of the day vs. riding down in the cat from the upper zones.

    The configuration of the path is also deceiving. The main start zone is a steep face above treeline. But, the logical entrance from the cat road is from a bench right at treeline, and you enter from the side, a hundred yards or so away from the alpine start zone. You can enter it at a spot that's not that steep (probably 30-35 degrees), doesn't really have a convexity, and isn't particularly windloaded. It leads into a long funnel and you end up out below the big alpine start zone above. At the bottom is a bench, when it does slide the debris usually seems to stop on the bench, and about halfway across, mature trees (used to) stand. Then there's another short pitch down to the summer/cat road and the valley floor.

    In other words, it's for sure a big path, but one that you can probably get away with a lot of the time. We'll probably find out from the final report, but I'm guessing that one or more of the group was probably standing in the mature trees on the bench. Under most conditions in CO, that would not be 100% safe, but also not that out of line with typical travel protocol. On Thursday, it was nowhere near a safe spot as the avalanche completely overran the bench and the second pitch below. I can understand how someone that is in that terrain daily would fall back on their usual protocols that keep them safe, unfortunately, conditions dictated a change in protocol that apparently did not happen.
    Thank you for your detailed knowledge of that specific terrain. What you've posted along with the ultimate report is going to make it safer for people in the future who have to make decisions in that zone,
    you know there ain't no devil,
    there's just God when he's drunk---- Tom Waits

  14. #139
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    Thanks to all for moving this thread in an overall more positive/productive direction, and apologies for my earlier cuntery.g.
    Thanks for the info. Are you able to share a map shot of where the path is? I've skied Butler plenty over the years, but only really ski jones in Oct-Nov, when most of this stuff isnt in.

  15. #140
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    Quote Originally Posted by trogdortheburninator View Post
    Thanks for the info. Are you able to share a map shot of where the path is? I've skied Butler plenty over the years, but only really ski jones in Oct-Nov, when most of this stuff isnt in.
    3946'52"N 10552'12"W

  16. #141
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunder View Post
    I also want to say I know NOTHING about this operation or its "guides" as I had never heard of them before. The following is not in relation to this accident, but a general observation of the sate of guiding in the U.S.

    In general I despise the fact that anyone can call themselves a guide in the US with very little if any certification. This is a major problem in the US. I've lost track of how many operations Ive gone out with in the U. where the so called guides where grossly unqualified and the operations lacked basic safety requirements like mandating all guests carry avy gear. So any time an accident does involve a commercial operation in the US my first question is how qualified where the "guides"? I never have this questions in Canada or most parts of Europe.
    Skiing at Whitewater in bc I was blown away by the knowledge level of people just riding the lifts, it is so backcountry friendly, very easy access, but everyone I talked to had at least level one training, it was just a given. Also regular and affordable workshops are taught there, This is not relevant to this accident necessarily but if everyone, even clients, had some training before skiing outside of lift served terrain we'd all be safer. People I met there were smart, experienced and relaxed
    you know there ain't no devil,
    there's just God when he's drunk---- Tom Waits

  17. #142
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  18. #143
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    Quote Originally Posted by Summit View Post
    Or one could ski an avalanche chute solo on a black day cuz... human factors: https://www.instagram.com/p/BuuinCFFoc5/
    Dang! Some crazy shit happening in there. Paging killingcokes?

  19. #144
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredgnar View Post
    Fritz seemed like a pretty nice guy when I've met him. He's got some guide books out, seems to know his shit. I don't see how shit talking him in this thread is really necessary, (especially since today is his birthday according to social media). Is he the same Fritz that posts here?
    Different Fritz. Used to be killingcokes, no? I was in a few pics in his rmnp book but only met him briefly.

  20. #145
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    I have been following this thread
    People are asking for a map, here it is
    https://avalanche.state.co.us/caic/o...p?obs_id=21515
    I was one of the three skiers there that day in 2014
    Day was moderate with pockets of considerable above tree line
    The avy happened on our 3 rd lap
    I was the last skier down, on our 3 rd lap, we were meeting at our safe spot where the skiers right chute meets the main chute, the slide missed our safe spot by 2 feet
    After I stopped skiing, looking back up at our lines, a small pocket released 10 ft by 10ft by 6 inches deep about 40 yards above our meeting place

    Then the entire path above us 400 to 600 ft above went stain glass on us,
    Van size blocks started to fall off the cliffs, all slide paths went on sunshine peak that day, the slide propragrated about 1/2 mile up valley, not sure if coin slot went that day
    Debree pile on the run that we were on was 15-20 feet deep in places
    We dont know if we triggered it from below or was a natural, our guess was I triggered it on my last run
    Crown was between 1 ft to over 12ft
    The giant path that the snowmobiles high mark ran to the valley floor also
    Mature trees were snapped

    On our way out we told PA about it as they were going up that day
    I have over 100 days on this slope over the last 20+ years


    RIP

  21. #146
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    That IG thread is nuts. I feel bad for his children.

  22. #147
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    Summit can probably confirm/deny whether alpha angles are currently taught in recreational avy classes, ... "Values of alpha for extreme runout vary from about 15* to 50* in most avalanche terrain. However, the mean value and standard deviation of alpha is different for each range of mountains due to variations in terrain. Therefore, individual ranges have runout distances that differ greatly."
    Yes the true varies with terrain, and the mean also varies by climactic zone with maritime tending to run farther (lower angle) than continental.

    I went to the bottom of the Peak 1 path today. It was like the angry hand of god. I measured the alpha angle as 22* with my compass. @trogdortheburninator

    It also even had a comment about observing vegetation clues is a generally more reliable indication of historic runout than alpha angle.
    This is limited in utility depending on how historic. So for a 50 year cycle it can be subtle to imperceptible if you move into 50 year old trees from 100 year old trees. Can you tell a 50 year lodgepole from a 100 year? I don't know that I can without a chainsaw and a magnifying glass!

    A bit more obvious if you move from pines to a mature aspen stand that seems to live only in the maximum gully.

    With a 200 or 500 year cycle (which some professionals have labeled this) and vegetation will tell you nada.

    @adrenalated your post was excellent, well considered, worthy of its length!
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  23. #148
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    Quote Originally Posted by Summit View Post
    Yes the true varies with terrain, and the mean also varies by climactic zone with maritime tending to run farther (lower angle) than continental.

    I went to the bottom of the Peak 1 path today. It was like the angry hand of god. I measured the alpha angle as 22* with my compass. @trogdortheburninator

    This is limited in utility depending on how historic. So for a 50 year cycle it can be subtle to imperceptible if you move into 50 year old trees from 100 year old trees. Can you tell a 50 year lodgepole from a 100 year? I don't know that I can without a chainsaw and a magnifying glass!

    A bit more obvious if you move from pines to a mature aspen stand that seems to live only in the maximum gully.

    With a 200 or 500 year cycle (which some professionals have labeled this) and vegetation will tell you nada.
    100% agreed with all of this. It kinda highlights the point that identifying terrain that was absolutely, positively, NOT avalanche terrain during this last cycle was neither simple nor easy. When forecasters with many decades more experience than me are saying the cycle is unprecedented... that should give anyone pause.
    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!

  24. #149
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    100% agreed with all of this. It kinda highlights the point that identifying terrain that was absolutely, positively, NOT avalanche terrain during this last cycle was neither simple nor easy. When forecasters with many decades more experience than me are saying the cycle is unprecedented... that should give anyone pause.
    Indeed, the more extreme the historic cycle, the more extreme the conservatism needed.
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  25. #150
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    When forecasters with many decades more experience than me are saying the cycle is unprecedented... that should give anyone pause.
    Nah dude, that's just a heuristic.

    Man Killing Cokes stuff on IG was hard to read, he even blew up a business account for no good reason.

    I'll never get the appeal of skiing the bc on high or extreme days. Me, I'd rather ski a bazillion vertical feet of pow off the chairlifts til I can barely walk on a day like that than ski one or two scary backcountry laps on low angled pow. To each their own, I guess.

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