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  1. #201
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    Yeah people have balls on s diamond. There is a pretty safe route up the lookers right side but I see people skinning straight up ptarmigan sometimes. Last big skier triggered slide was 2016 I think.

  2. #202
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    I think the fact that guides from PA were also out recreationally touring in the area the day of the slide further underscores the risk of familiarity. It makes me wonder whether, if the front range forecast had been classified extreme, they would have heeded the warnings. I think many experienced ski tourers think they can manage certain avy terrain at high danger. To me though, this didnt seem close to typical high danger. It makes me think a lot about the granularity of the forecast and the margins that exist between elevations and zones.

    I've often thought that the NTL forecast was just an uncertainty buffer with elevation. By itself, the NTL forecast is nearly meaningless, but to me, I see Low-Low-Mod as substantively different than Low-Mod-Mod.

    Likewise, with zones. The front range zone has a huge range of latitude. The vail-summit (V-S) zone has a huge range of longitude. On average, the Front Range probably warranted the lower rating that day vs V-S, but in the vicinity of Berthoud/Jones, all signs were pointing towards extreme, and the language in the forecast discussion was explicit. From the aftermath, Summit was ground zero, but Berth/Jones seemed to have higher frequency of activity than Vail. I suppose my point is to factor in adjacent zones when reading the forecast. If skiing southern tenmile, read Sawatch. Northeastern aspen, read vail, etc.

  3. #203
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    May 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Summit View Post
    Emphasis was versus the reports from PA and the newspaper:

    No second tour group trigger.
    This was not a guide hit in a "normally safe zone" behind trees.
    This was not a a guide hit just by the road (which had been hit).

    This was a guide hit in the path, AND a client hit in the path, after 11 clients and 2 guides had skied. The guides made a decision to ski avalanche exposed terrain during HIGH danger AND to have a guide ski while a client was still exposed, and the safe zone was only just barely so.
    Not to mention they basically got slapped in the face with a red flag when a natural slide burred the cat road that morning forcing them to change plans. Instead of avoiding all avy terrain, they dropped into a zone with significant overhead exposure.

    As I stated in a previous post, anyone in the US can call themselves a "guide". So my question is what kind of actually accreditation did these "guides" actually have? Note, the report said they did a safety briefing in the cat on the way up. Did they actually take the time to do proper rescue training ON SNOW with the clients that day?

  4. #204
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    Apr 2004
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    familiarity I guess they are used to seeing 8 ft of fresh avie debris on their cat track when they are operating. What difference does the forecast make? If you see fresh debris it is pretty clear sign that avalanches are certain. Gunder posted while I was typing my exact thoughts.
    off your knees Louie

  5. #205
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    Aug 2006
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    Expert halo, too

  6. #206
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    Mar 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by BFD View Post
    familiarity I guess they are used to seeing 8 ft of fresh avie debris on their cat track when they are operating. What difference does the forecast make? If you see fresh debris it is pretty clear sign that avalanches are certain. Gunder posted while I was typing my exact thoughts.
    The general school of thought that I've always subscribed to is to use obs to elevate the real-time risk rating beyond the assumed level at the planning stage (and hence modify plan to be more conservative). The difference between high (with possibility for full/historic path slides) and extreme is basically an issue of spatial frequency, which can't really be assessed in the small sample of a particular tour. I'm guessing if the mindset at the onset was that "we are going cat skiing with exposure to avalanche terrain at high danger", the observed slide may not have massively changed the view point. I still just have a hard time with the notion of stepping out the door on that day to go ski in that environment - even more so with clients.

  7. #207
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    Aug 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrenalated View Post
    As was discussed earlier in the thread, it's obvious that the guides fucked up, because there was a massive avalanche and one of them was killed. I also don't really know how continuously restating "they fucked up" helps anyone actually learn anything from the event.

    There's a lot to unpack in this one, and in my opinion, a lot that experienced backcountry travelers can learn from, even if it is just reinforcing things that we already know. Here are a few keys things I noted:

    1) The Familiarity heuristic. These were people that were intimately familiar with the terrain and traveled in it very regularly. They moved through it with caution and traveled in a way that mostly minimized the exposure of the group (for the most part, traveling one at a time from "safe zone" to "safe zone") and minimized the likelihood of triggering an avalanche (by sticking to lower angled terrain). This was partly successful. They indeed did not trigger an avalanche. What they failed to do, however, is correctly identify the magnitude of the overhead hazard they were exposed to, underestimated the likelihood of a natural trigger, and underestimated what would actually be a safe zone under the current conditions. Do you have terrain that you know extremely well and have techniques that you usually use while skiing it? I do. It's important to think about whether your usual terrain and usual techniques are truly sufficient to stay safe on any given day and to recognize that they may not always work.

    2) a breakdown in safe travel protocol. The group had planned on moving one at a time through the terrain. This broke down when Client 12 got stuck in the flats at the base of the run, and Guide 3 did not wait for them to get fully to the safe zone before beginning his descent. It's impossible to know, but maybe the guide was going to assist the client? While having multiple people on the slope did not have any impact on the avalanche being triggered (since it was natural), it did result in multiple people being caught. I'm immediately reminded of a time earlier this year where I was skiing a run and took a tumble out of sight of my partner. He thought I went into a tree well and traversed out into the run where he could get a visual on me. I was not in a tree well and although the hazard on that slope on that day was very low and his intentions were good, we had a breakdown in travel protocol that led to both of us being on the slope at the same time. My point is, this shit happens to experienced people and truly practicing safe travel techniques requires more diligence than a lot of people think.

    3) Red Flags/Instability Clues. Avalanche classes from the most basic level up emphasize the importance of looking for signs of instability while in the field, one of the most obvious is recent avalanches. The guides encountered a recent natural avalanche but (apparently) did not fully incorporate the significance of that into their travel plan. The report specifically states: "The guides determined that the natural avalanche released in terrain steeper than what they intended to travel through. They therefore did not consider this a sufficient indication that their intended descent routes might be exposed to similar, but larger avalanches." This is me guessing, but the natural they encountered was on a different aspect, at a higher elevation, in a more wind exposed area, so it's possible those things entered the guide's minds. I've heard many times people say things like "well this slope isn't as wind loaded" or "there's not as much of a convexity here." It's easy to talk yourself out of recognizing the significance of signs of instability.

    Regardless of if you would have made the exact decision the guides did, on that exact day, in that exact terrain - my humble opinion is that every backcountry traveler that is truly honest with themselves has made one or more of the above mistakes. I personally don't think I would have even gone to Jones Pass on that day, but I can certainly take away lessons and hopefully apply them to improve my own decision making.
    There is very little to unpack in this one. They shoulda stayed home. Yes, I make mistakes like everyone else while skiing. I'm pretty good at staying safe at home. Sometimes it's OK to take a day off when avie conditions are at a high never seen before. Small mistakes turn into death on days like these. Just stay home, experts make mistakes too. Powder skiing sucks when you are terrified of dying.

  8. #208
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    Feb 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by trogdortheburninator View Post
    I still just have a hard time with the notion of stepping out the door on that day to go ski in that environment - even more so with clients.
    ^^^This^^^

  9. #209
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    Feb 2005
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    Wow. I've said it before, and now even, reading the final report, I physically puked and caught it in my mouth, while crying.

    My brain blowing up. R4 D3.5. While in the field I always caution on Star Wars (R2D2) and how that is the end of the universe.

    There was so much going on here. I will just swallow this report and pay homage to a good man.

    Again, om, breathe. Fuck. That was a shitty day.

    BTW, if any of you haven't gotten the survey e-mail in your daily, take it.

    https://avbulletin.avalancheresearch.ca/

  10. #210
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    Aug 2007
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    Just read the report. The crew with him were super dialed in the rescue attempt, props to them. On the other hand, I'm glad they didn't get a bunch of their clients killed too. Timing of the avie could have been worse. I mean no disrespect to them or the deceased, I'm just sick of this patty-cake we play after these avalanches about 'we are all human' and 'we all make mistakes'. Can we just say sometimes powder skiing is not worth it? Can we say it's fine to stay home some days? Can we say maybe you have a serious addiction if you think you can beat the odds?


    It's like a historian breaking down the battle of the bulge, trying to figure out why soldiers died. The mini-details may be morbidly interesting, just like an avie report, but the bottom line it's because they went to war. Don't go to war, it sucks.

  11. #211
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    Dec 2008
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    Bozeman
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    Jones Pass Fatality

    Nevermind
    Last edited by kathleenturneroverdrive; 04-06-2019 at 10:39 AM.

  12. #212
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    I finally just read the report.

    Fuck.

    The guides that were there must be reeling with guilt over this and that sucks. We all make mistakes so I will leave it at that.
    dirtbag, not a dentist

  13. #213
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    Quote Originally Posted by muted View Post
    Can we say it's fine to stay home some days?
    No, that's what your pass is for.

    Seriously though, given all that was going on, I remain blown away that this group was out there, that they stayed out there after the cat road was covered with debris, that a group of snowboarders was out there too, and another group was down in the valley. All other decisions were secondary to the original decision to go out there at all.

  14. #214
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    Feb 2005
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    There is a question in the survey posted above which asks you for each level of avalanche hazard identified in a report, how that affects your decision. One of the options is that the hazard designation alone, without any other data would dictate that you flat out stay out of the backcountry. There is a point at which I employ that decision making.

  15. #215
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    Oct 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by MakersTeleMark View Post
    There is a question in the survey posted above which asks you for each level of avalanche hazard identified in a report, how that affects your decision. One of the options is that the hazard designation alone, without any other data would dictate that you flat out stay out of the backcountry. There is a point at which I employ that decision making.
    I basically make 90% of my go/nogo decision before I get off the couch in the morning. I'm not going out trying to justify a line, or talk myself out of anything. Plenty of other fine options, and I have a renewed love of skiing inbounds. I'm also not going out on considerable or high days just to meadowskip on a golf course. I'd much rather bang chopped up inbounds steeps than deal with that. My BC risk tolerance has waned in the last few years after seeing the results of bad decisions play out too many times over the years.

  16. #216
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredgnar View Post
    I basically make 90% of my go/nogo decision before I get off the couch in the morning. I'm not going out trying to justify a line, or talk myself out of anything. Plenty of other fine options, and I have a renewed love of skiing inbounds. I'm also not going out on considerable or high days just to meadowskip on a golf course. I'd much rather bang chopped up inbounds steeps than deal with that. My BC risk tolerance has waned in the last few years after seeing the results of bad decisions play out too many times over the years.
    Yep. I hate hate hate "Let's just go out and see what we see." Invariably this leads to "Look, rad skiing!". Rad skiing leads to justifications: It isn't as steep as it looks, this aspect is a little different than that one that had a fresh slide, I've never seen this slope slide, I heard someone skied this last week, there are tracks in it, etc. Rad skiing was a stupid, horrible, absolute no-go choice from the couch. In the field, it looks good and it's so easy to start justifying.

  17. #217
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    Feb 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenboy View Post
    Yep. I hate hate hate "Let's just go out and see what we see." Invariably this leads to "Look, rad skiing!". Rad skiing leads to justifications: It isn't as steep as it looks, this aspect is a little different than that one that had a fresh slide, I've never seen this slope slide, I heard someone skied this last week, there are tracks in it, etc. Rad skiing was a stupid, horrible, absolute no-go choice from the couch. In the field, it looks good and it's so easy to start justifying.
    I have to disagree with this as a blanket statement. The flip side of the coin is "you don't know if you don't go." It takes knowledge and patience and a healthy dose of humble. But that pretty much applies all the time.

  18. #218
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    Lots of great points raised about the report. But not much comment on the fact that very soon (<24hrs) after an avalanche fatality of one of their guides, Powder Addition used social media to blame another party for triggering the slide from above them with little to no confirmation that was the case, and now CAIC's report determines it was very likely a cornice drop and not that party. Not sure what to think of that kinda baseless finger-pointing less than 24 hours after one of their guides was killed ...especially when you learn more details of the events leading up to the avalanche (such as a slide taking out their cat road). I guess this is just the reality of our social media world, it seems questionable to say the least.

  19. #219
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    Quote Originally Posted by blazes_boylan View Post
    Lots of great points raised about the report. But not much comment on the fact that very soon (<24hrs) after an avalanche fatality of one of their guides, Powder Addition used social media to blame another party for triggering the slide from above them with little to no confirmation that was the case, and now CAIC's report determines it was very likely a cornice drop and not that party. Not sure what to think of that kinda baseless finger-pointing less than 24 hours after one of their guides was killed ...especially when you learn more details of the events leading up to the avalanche (such as a slide taking out their cat road). I guess this is just the reality of our social media world, it seems questionable to say the least.
    Blame is ugly enough from unrelated bystanders. I expect that initial reaction adds an additional layer of regret to a horrible situation.

  20. #220
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenboy View Post
    Yep. I hate hate hate "Let's just go out and see what we see." Invariably this leads to "Look, rad skiing!". Rad skiing leads to justifications: It isn't as steep as it looks, this aspect is a little different than that one that had a fresh slide, I've never seen this slope slide, I heard someone skied this last week, there are tracks in it, etc. Rad skiing was a stupid, horrible, absolute no-go choice from the couch. In the field, it looks good and it's so easy to start justifying.
    Really? I love the "Let's go take a look and see" much more than having a dead set objective. I think people with objectives tend to want to see green flags more so.

    We don't have a forecast down here so we have to make our own decisions based on our season long observations. I'm more than happy to back off when I don't like the looks of things.
    dirtbag, not a dentist

  21. #221
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    Quote Originally Posted by raisingarizona13 View Post
    Really? I love the "Let's go take a look and see" much more than having a dead set objective. I think people with objectives tend to want to see green flags more so.

    We don't have a forecast down here so we have to make our own decisions based on our season long observations. I'm more than happy to back off when I don't like the looks of things.
    yeah same. a lot of confirmation bias etc seems to melt away when you go out with a “let’s see” attitude vs a “this is the goal” attitude. I am sure it depends a lot on personality and group dynamics but for me and the type of folks I tour with this works great.

  22. #222
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    Whe conditions are a bit tricky, I prefer the approach of, here’s several options. Lets pick the one that makes the most sense. I try to pick locations that have various options to dial down as necessary as opposed to either ‘lets see’ or ‘this is our objective’. Again, when conditions are tricky. Objectives have a time and a place. A more structured approach to ‘lets see’ works best for the way I function out there.

  23. #223
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    Dec 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldenboy View Post
    No, that's what your pass is for.

    Seriously though, given all that was going on, I remain blown away that this group was out there, that they stayed out there after the cat road was covered with debris, that a group of snowboarders was out there too, and another group was down in the valley. All other decisions were secondary to the original decision to go out there at all.
    That is how I view it.

    Adrenelated's basic argument that condemning others practices is a way of forgiving your own decisions or assuming you are above such mistakes and thus creating your own righteous halo, is valid and important.

    But these decisions were so egregious. It seems very lucky only one life was lost.
    you know there ain't no devil,
    there's just God when he's drunk---- Tom Waits

  24. #224
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    Dec 2007
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    I've never been sure, but is PA still operating, were they on hold during this period or have they continued normal operations? And March 7, what were those 12 ?!! clients thinking? It's clear PA should not have taken them but why were they even going, did they think they were bagging a rhino, climbing everest, or some similar once in a life conquest mindset?
    Last edited by daviski; 04-07-2019 at 08:02 AM.
    you know there ain't no devil,
    there's just God when he's drunk---- Tom Waits

  25. #225
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    Nov 2004
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    The sad irony of this tribute quote from the deceased:

    "let it go. Look forward to skiing groomers in the Colorado sunshine and most importantly mentally itemize other possible activities (drive to road closures and hike/snowshoe around the glory, take in some hot springs, spa, etc...)...

    Bottom line is your vacation can no longer be about anticipating skiing, it must be about enjoying the mountains with your family. That will serve you well in the long run. ENJOY!!!"

    So frustrating! Ugh....so fucking sad.

    Also (and not to be glib whatsoever, but) the occurrences of addiction and Jones in this situation read like bad hollywood writing. Obviously it doesn't mean anything, it just sticks out...if this were fiction and I were editing I'd say it's a bit over the top.

    I hope somehow these days prove to be a high tide in the "pow is everything", "backcountry is everything" movement in skiing....
    I hope someday we look back on this as where we decided, as a culture, that we're going to take a chill day when it gets sketchy like this. I know it seems judgemental, but FFS....the conventional wisdom has shit on inbounds skiing for 10 or 15 years now...maybe it's enough already. There's a time and place for everything.

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