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  1. #1
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    Valemount - Skier Fatality Feb 23, 2021

    Looking at the MIN reports this morning and came across this incident. Hasn't seemed to hit the local media yet, and some parts of the reports around date and times do not appear to be consistent. Report suggests that a SOS device was interferring with the searchers' ability to locate the fully buried subject.

    From the MIN report:
    "Party travelled up trees on the west side of slope. Circled around to top of slope to avoid a concerning area of wind loading. At start of slope, skiers descended one at a time and regrouped near the base of the slope below an outcrop of trees. Transitioned to skinning and started an up track over existing ski tracks. Group discussed possible terrain trap to the east. Second person felt a settlement and notified party. Shortly after a much larger settlement occurred and triggered a wind loaded section at ridge line. This triggered remaining slope. All parties were caught in the ensuing avalanche. Two members had avalanche airbags and deployed them during the slide. One member came to rest face down, head down but was able to clear their face and remove their backpack to initiate SOS. self extricated and initiated beacon search. Travelled upslope and found second member face up, head down and partially buried. Assisted in their extrication and continued beacon search for third missing group member. Unable to obtain signal and believe SOS device was negatively affecting search function (intermittent signal found and chased from 70m to 20m before lost, numerous times). Search and rescue arrived on scene at 5pm."

    And from the incident report:
    "Three skiers were caught in an avalanche estimated to be 400 metres wide and 50-140cm deep. The slide ran approximately 800 metres, nearly to valley bottom. The avalanche was likely remotely triggered from below the start zone after whumphing was reported to have occurred. Two people were partially buried and able to self rescue but could not locate the third person who was fully buried. Due to failing light SAR teams were not able to locate the missing skier on the day this incident occurred. The recovery mission found the deceased third skier the following day.

    While unconfirmed, the characteristics of this slide and evidence of other avalanches in the area that look like they occurred at or near the same time, suggests the January 24th persistent weak layer is the failure layer. This layer is known to exist in many parts of the Northern Rockies as well as other ranges throughout British Columbia.

    This report is based on preliminary data and may be updated if more information is received.

    This is a Mountain Information Network post describing the incident."

    Click image for larger version. 

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    https://www.avalanche.ca/mountain-in...a-cae3f24efbd9

    Edit: From The Rocky Mtn Goat: https://www.therockymountaingoat.com...-of-valemount/

    Vibes to the friends and family of the deceased.
    Last edited by BCMtnHound; 02-25-2021 at 11:22 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    It's Full of Stars....
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    Goddamnit.......RIP.
    What we have here is an intelligence failure. You may be familiar with staring directly at that when shaving. .
    -Ottime
    One man can only push so many boulders up hills at one time.
    -BMillsSkier

  3. #3
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    The recent storm cycle weighting on that Jan 24th weakness claimed a snowmobiler in the Pine Pass (Hasler) area last Saturday Feb 20th too. More snow/precip to come, with winds and temps rising, over the next week or so. Does not bode well for stability. Stay safe out there!

  4. #4
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    Dec 2008
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    Driggs
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    SOS device providing interference? Rack up a another possible item to keep away from your beacon.

  5. #5
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    Oct 2003
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    JAC
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    FWIW on the front of my beacon I have a sticky saying "radio off" to remind me to shut things down if I have to search. It's a good reminder.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Jasper, AB
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    149
    Fuck. Shitty news. Those layers are really waking up. Av Canada has issued a SPAW for this weekend for North and south Rockies but good reminder to keep an eye out for those layers.

    Valemount MIN sounds like it was the 2nd lap - conditions warming up maybe a factor? Solar and mild temps have become a factor up here again.

    Rip and vibes to those affected.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    The Shed of Incorruptible Veracity
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    Quote Originally Posted by wstdeep View Post
    FWIW on the front of my beacon I have a sticky saying "radio off" to remind me to shut things down if I have to search. It's a good reminder.

    That isn't going to help if you're in a situation where you trigger an SOS call from an InReach/Spot/PLB, particularly if it is a device with two-way communication capability.

    It would be great if there was more known about whether the interference is a bigger issue for the searching beacon or the sending one. If the radio strapped to the buried guy's chest is interfering with his beacon's signal, that's a lot harder to mitigate for than if the problem is tech on the searcher interfering with his beacon.
    The truth doesn't care about your feelings.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    6,881
    Quote Originally Posted by glademaster View Post
    That isn't going to help if you're in a situation where you trigger an SOS call from an InReach/Spot/PLB, particularly if it is a device with two-way communication capability.

    It would be great if there was more known about whether the interference is a bigger issue for the searching beacon or the sending one. If the radio strapped to the buried guy's chest is interfering with his beacon's signal, that's a lot harder to mitigate for than if the problem is tech on the searcher interfering with his beacon.
    I think what is know is that is can be a problem but almost never is. The manufacturers are never going to say that because of liability concerns. Anecdotally, I have never been able to create interfered with any combination of beacons, InReaches, radios, phones, or gps. I have realized massive interfering from power lines and high powers communications equipment.

    I think the smart money says, separate and electronics from your beacon as far as possible but at least 30cm. For me, that means chest carry for the beacon. Thigh pocket for my phone and InReach in the top pocket of my pack. I don't usually carry a radio.

    This system is not the best mostly because of the challenge inherent in having the InReach have a good GPS signal and bluetooth to the phone. I like chest carry for the beacon because a. its what I'm used to b. I like my beacon close to my airway c. I don't have pants the the pocket tether. If I could start from scratch, I think putting the beacon in the pants pocket and having all other electronics on your chest is probably the best way to go.

  9. #9
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    Sep 2010
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    Mr Klassen with Cariboo Weather dude on that Jan 24th layer. Big variability from the Trophies to Valemount here. Time to limit the exposure.

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