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  1. #1
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    Snowboarders cited for triggering avalanche at Eisenhower tunnel

    che-near-eisenhower-tunnel/?fbclid=IwAR1a9nAOTaT3yOOMZN6MzQaUv5Ncrf5-m_Teh4dt3HgLrVdhN7JwDeizAuI
    "True love is much easier to find with a helicopter"

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    che-near-eisenhower-tunnel/?fbclid=IwAR1a9nAOTaT3yOOMZN6MzQaUv5Ncrf5-m_Teh4dt3HgLrVdhN7JwDeizAuI
    https://snowbrains.com/men-avalanche...-endangerment/

    FIFY

    Article says " There was no legal reason stopping the men from accessing the area and they were within their rights to ride the chute."

    So if there was no prohibition on accessing that area? If the state doesn't want people from accessing an area that should be posted. Typical after the fact knee jerk reaction by the authorities to cover their own asses.

  3. #3
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    Two snowboarders have been cited with reckless endangerment after triggering an avalanche that hit the Loop Road above the west portal of the Eisenhower Tunnel on March 25.
    Liz Copan / ecopan@summitdaily.com

    DILLON — Two individuals have been cited with reckless endangerment after triggering an avalanche that hit a roadway near the Eisenhower Tunnel in March.

    On the afternoon of March 25, two men — identified as Tyler DeWitt of Silverthorne and Evan Hannibal of Vail — were backcountry snowboarding above the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels when they triggered a large avalanche that covered more than 400 feet of active roadway above the west portal of the tunnel.

    The men made their way up the slope from a parking area on the west side of the tunnels and rode down in a line above the tunnels. The boarders triggered what initially was a small avalanche, but as the slide continued it shot widespread cracks across the slope and eventually eroded into the “very weak” basal facets that removed the entire snowpack, according to a report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The avalanche danger was rated moderate at the time.

    The slide damaged a remote avalanche control unit, essentially a fixed gas chamber on the slope that can remote detonate during avalanche mitigation efforts, and eventually buried the Loop Road in up to 20 feet of debris. The Loop Road is a service road primarily used by the Colorado Department of Transportation but was open to the public at the time of the avalanche.

    The men called 911 to report the avalanche and met law enforcement on the Loop Road after they finished descending. DeWitt said they spoke with officials for a couple of hours and were initially allowed to leave without being cited.

    No cars or individuals — including the snowboarders — were caught in the slide, though officials said the avalanche easily could have been deadly under different circumstances.

    “We’re really lucky it didn’t injure or kill somebody,” said Ethan Greene, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

    Of note, there was nothing legally preventing the snowboarders from accessing the area, and they were within their rights to ride the chute. But given the circumstances and subsequent danger, some officials felt the men acted in a negligent way and unnecessarily endangered everyone on the roadways below.
    Two snowboarders have been cited with reckless endangerment after triggering an avalanche that hit the Loop Road above the west portal of the Eisenhower Tunnel on March 25.

    “They were both experienced skiers, and based upon that experience should have been able to contemplate the danger that arose from skiing an avalanche chute directly above the tunnel, where automobile traffic goes directly underneath,” Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown said. “They triggered an avalanche, and luckily no one was harmed. But the charge of reckless endangerment is that you do something recklessly and that you create a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to another person. In this case, it was the community in general driving on the roadway below.”

    Both DeWitt and Hannibal were issued citations for reckless endangerment, class 3 misdemeanors, in early April.

    But DeWitt said the citation was unwarranted and that he intends to fight the charge. He said he’d been watching the wall for a couple of weeks to track avalanche conditions, noting he’d only seen small “sluff” slides traveling short distances. He also felt that the presence of other skiers on nearby chutes, and avalanche control units on the slope pointed to lower potential for a large-scale avalanche.

    “Those were the things that gave me confidence in riding that terrain,” DeWitt said. “Evan and I are out in the backcountry a lot during the winter. That’s our lives. We go out there every day, we assess avalanche conditions, and we play it by the book.”

    DeWitt also said he felt the avalanche easily could have happened naturally without them.

    “It’s (the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and CDOT’s) job to control the slope enough to make sure nothing would reach the road. And it turned out that they didn’t have it controlled. … In my opinion, seeing these other little slides happening, that very well could have been natural,” DeWitt said. “… I was thinking that they had been blasting it all year, and that at max, there could be a 20-foot, tiny wet slab. It didn’t even cross our minds (that an avalanche could reach the road).”

    Greene said officials performed gas explosion mitigation efforts on the slope March 20, five days before the avalanche, which triggered four small slides. He continued to say that mitigation efforts look considerably different in areas where the primary goal is protecting infrastructure rather than skiers, and he noted that while its certainly possible, it’s unlikely the avalanche would have occurred naturally.

    “There’s a real difference between a mitigation program you’d see at a ski area and a mitigation program you’d do on some sort of infrastructure like a highway,” Greene said. “It has to do with the likelihood of events you’re trying to prevent. … From that perspective, where the primary threat we’re dealing with is natural avalanches released by weather events, that program was doing what it needed to do. …

    “And I think you can look and say it’s pretty unlikely it would have happened without human involvement. We certainly didn’t see any evidence from the surrounding area or the surrounding days of avalanche activity happening naturally. … Can I say it wouldn’t have happened two minutes later if they hadn’t have been there? No. But there was nothing else like that in that area during that time period.”

    DeWitt and Hannibal are scheduled to appear in Summit County Court on Aug. 5 for an arraignment.

    Regardless of how things ultimately play out, officials said the incident should serve as a reminder to backcountry recreationists to make sure they consider all the variables before heading out.

    “It’s a really important topic for us all to think about,” Greene said. “It’s not always as clear as black and white or good and bad. We all enjoy the public lands and the access we have to them. With that comes responsibility for our own safety and making sure we’re not putting other people at risk without consent.”
    You are entitled to an opinion.

    My training and experience as well as my opinion is that you do not ski avalanche terrain that hangs above unwitting potential victims.
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunion 2020 View Post
    You are entitled to an opinion.

    My training and experience as well as my opinion is that you do not ski avalanche terrain that hangs above unwitting potential victims.
    So, for example, you would never ski any terrain on Rogers Pass that faces the TransCanada highway? As thousands of recreationalists, professional guides, and avalanche forecasters do on a daily basis throughout the winter?

    If the snowpack had enough jam (at that time) to smoke the road, that's an obvious gap in the forecasting program, or simply just a forecasting error/mistake. It happens.
    Drive slow, homie.

  5. #5
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    Faces with a good run-out VS Hangs right above? Slightly different animals I would say.

    Sorry but it was a poor choice on the part of these 2 guys. They could easily have killed people, they got off lightly having to not live with that kind of grief.

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    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  6. #6
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    it will be interesting the hear the courts opinion on this matter.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunion 2020 View Post
    Faces with a good run-out VS Hangs right above? Slightly different animals I would say.
    I don't know what you are referring to here?
    Drive slow, homie.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunion 2020 View Post
    My training and experience as well as my opinion is that you do not ski avalanche terrain that hangs above unwitting potential victims.
    so anything on the north side of the LCC road for example is completely off limits? (South Superior, Tanners, Little Pine, etc etc etc) that stuff crosses the road as a result of control work quite regularly.

    not provoking an argument, just curious

  9. #9
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    Snowboarders cited for triggering avalanche at Eisenhower tunnel

    Quote Originally Posted by Z View Post
    I don't know what you are referring to here?
    I think hes taking about your comparison with Rogers pass, which doesnt really have slopes directly above the road quite like this does. I see your point though.


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  10. #10
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    Ya it does. 130 av paths in 40 km hit the road. Probably 30-40 would have a very similar exposure as that one

    Sent from my SM-G950W using TGR Forums mobile app

  11. #11
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    We own the consequences of our BC decisions.

    If you slide a road, another party, or damage property, you may be held responsible. You roll the dice and take your chances. This was a dumb roll.

    Do we need a system that bans people from potentially endangering others? That is what ski areas do. The BC is not the ski area. That's not preferable, and thus there wasn't a permanent closure like above the Sisters, but it's probably where the terrain in this case is headed: permanent closure.

    The comments by Dewittless in the article blaming CAIC for not doing more control work... wow... I wish I could say that moronic remark shocks me... but not coming from that guy. His groups have been involved in multiple avalanche incidents (and non avalanche incidents) this season and more over the years.
    Last edited by Summit; 05-21-2020 at 03:53 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  12. #12
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    But DeWitt said the citation was unwarranted and that he intends to fight the charge. He said he’d been watching the wall for a couple of weeks to track avalanche conditions, noting he’d only seen small “sluff” slides traveling short distances. He also felt that the presence of other skiers on nearby chutes, and avalanche control units on the slope pointed to lower potential for a large-scale avalanche.

    “Those were the things that gave me confidence in riding that terrain,” DeWitt said. “Evan and I are out in the backcountry a lot during the winter. That’s our lives. We go out there every day, we assess avalanche conditions, and we play it by the book.”

    DeWitt also said he felt the avalanche easily could have happened naturally without them.
    this bit is kind of a head scratcher. it's safe because other people were also out skiing, and also it could have naturalled?

  13. #13
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    "Regardless of how things ultimately play out, officials said the incident should serve as a reminder to backcountry recreationists to make sure they consider all the variables before heading out."

    I think thats why they got charged, officials don't care if they win they just want to put a strong message out there for people to ski somewhere else.

  14. #14
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    Do people ever get cited with endangerment on Teton Pass? Seems like every season some yahoo kicks a slide into traffic and I'm wondering if there is precedent. I don't think these guys made good decisions but I also don't agree with charges being pressed. If they are found guilty, what precedent does it set about future criminal charges or litigation regarding avalanches in the backcountry. If my partner gets smoked by an avalanche will I have to deal with a manslaughter charge? Seems like a slippery slope (pun intended), to start pursuing criminal charges for avalanches in the backcountry (even in close proximity to roads).

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mall walker View Post
    so anything on the north side of the LCC road for example is completely off limits? (South Superior, Tanners, Little Pine, etc etc etc) that stuff crosses the road as a result of control work quite regularly.

    not provoking an argument, just curious
    I appreciate that and no in my opinion those paths are a different type of a problem. Teton Pass is a much closer example especially a few of the paths that directly threaten the road and most people give a bit of respect to. Thanks for adding that TI. When a road fatality from a BC users occurs we will see how it plays.

    I have stated my opinion and will leave it at that.
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mall walker View Post
    this bit is kind of a head scratcher. it's safe because other people were also out skiing, and also it could have naturalled?
    It's a not a head scratcher when you realize this guy is an aggro dolt. He puts together "extreme riding comps" in the Summit alpine midwinter. This year someone was seriously injured on Kitchen Wall and another person was partially buried in a slide.

    A few years back a snowboarder in his "comp" was slid in the alpine above Deer Creek, popped her airbag, it was on video, and it made the national news.

    He demonstrates poor critical thinking, bad risk management, and no sense of responsibility... exemplified well in the article by his common heuristic trap thinking while believing he is going "by the book" and yet he knows more than CAIC about avalanche control.
    Last edited by Summit; 05-21-2020 at 04:46 PM.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Z View Post
    If the snowpack had enough jam (at that time) to smoke the road, that's an obvious gap in the forecasting program, or simply just a forecasting error/mistake. It happens.
    Spatial variability. One of the first things students learn in Level I classes. You'd think this DeWitt guy would know that if he's as cool as he thinks he is about assessing snowpack stability from the road.

    Do people ever get cited with endangerment on Teton Pass? Seems like every season some yahoo kicks a slide into traffic and I'm wondering if there is precedent. I don't think these guys made good decisions but I also don't agree with charges being pressed. If they are found guilty, what precedent does it set about future criminal charges or litigation regarding avalanches in the backcountry. If my partner gets smoked by an avalanche will I have to deal with a manslaughter charge? Seems like a slippery slope (pun intended), to start pursuing criminal charges for avalanches in the backcountry (even in close proximity to roads).
    Not to my knowledge has anyone ever been cited for reckless endangerment on Teton Pass. Someone correct me if I'm wrong on that, but Glory gets slid frequently and I believe earlier this season someone kicked off a slide on the closed pass road, as well as someone a few years back burying a Jeep on the pass at Glory. Someone whose name was never released but apparently was a known name in TGR set off a slide that also covered the road.

    To answer the other questions, yes, it is a slippery slope when dealing with partners you trust and those who wouldn't pursue litigation.

  18. #18
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    Skiers have been sued because they smoked another group. Telluride, Teton Pass, plenty in Europe.
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Summit View Post
    Skiers have been sued because they smoked another group. Telluride, Teton Pass, plenty in Europe.
    Interesting, and I'd like to learn more about the lawsuits in Telluride and Teton Pass (who won the case for example?). Europe and particularly Italy was the first thing that came to mind reading the article as I'm pretty sure you can be held criminally liable for avalanche fatalities (I think in France only mountain guides are liable, but I could be wrong). In this case, I think the prosecutor will have a tough time proving they were knowingly negligent as I believe that is what you need to prove in these type of cases (if an actual lawyer knows otherwise, please correct me). Either way, I hate seeing this shit being brought to court. Who wants to roadside ski I-70, especially Eisenhower Tunnel, anyway? I prefer my backcountry away from traffic, but maybe the folks in Colorado find the sound of traffic soothing?

  20. #20
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    https://recreation-law.com/2018/01/0...t-injured-her/

    2017 group a and b ski the same line, group a said well wait for your call to droo, group b downclimbs choke, group a gets impatient and flushes the line injuring a girl in b.

    Rad line. A very fine mag was seriously hurt on that line back in 2003.

    Here is another pending Telluride situation. Group a ducks a closure rope into bear creek slides a chute and smokes a solo hiker. Potentially criminal and civil. https://coloradosun.com/2019/03/22/s...ort-telluride/

    I'll have to find the Teton Pass incident later.
    Quote Originally Posted by blurred
    skiing is hiking all day so that you can ski on shitty gear for 5 minutes.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz View Post
    I think he’s taking about your comparison with Rogers pass, which doesn’t really have slopes directly above the road quite like this does.
    I must have imagined working for 8 hours on the highway closure after avalanche control on the very regularly skied avalanche crest paths blocked all four lanes with snow and mature timber

  22. #22
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    There will always be people going to ski things they see from the highway. Maybe they are "idiots", or maybe they are you making a mistake. Doesn't matter. Humans make mistakes, always will. It's not a 'type of avalanche problem' problem. It's a human problem.

    If the avalanche program isn't forecasting for this, it's not doing it's job of keeping the roadway safe. If they can't control access to the terrain, it needs to be mitigated. You certainly can't trust people to make good decisions to keep snow off the road. This will, obviously, continue to happen without something changing. And it's certainly NOT going to be people choosing to avoid easy access terrain or (as a whole) making better decisions, unfortunately.
    Drive slow, homie.

  23. #23
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    can't imagine there won't be "no uphill travel" signs at the loop road now. always wanted to ski that little south facing chute on the north side in spring conditions. so many lines so little time.

  24. #24
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    Hopefully they don't close down the Coon hill area altogether in the future. I think that they should be held liable for some of the cost of clearing the snow, and a class 3 misdemeanor isn't that bad. I just don't think these guys are willing to take the blame for the fact that they fucked up. I've seen tracks on those lines for years but never understood the appeal, right over I70. Yuck.

    However I'd hate this to set a precedent of people being fined for kicking off slides into roads, or terrain getting closed because of it's ability to take out a road. That would include a shitton of really good lines all over the state and country.

  25. #25
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    ^^^ Exactly.

    Canadian expertise notwithstanding, this here is Murica.

    If some bro-brahs kick off a slide that actually results in a fatality on a highway you can bet that there will be litigation involving the Forecasting and Control entity. Whether or not it is successful is another story. The people who trigger the event will most likely get off with some bullshit charge like these dickheads did because, hey, they probably don't have any assets worth going after.

    End result could be no skiing zones above public access. That could very well include those beloved paths on the north side of LCC etc.

    Common sense, it ain't as common as many think. /rant.
    I have been in this State for 30 years and I am willing to admit that I am part of the problem.

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