Posts tagged: avalanche accidents
WINTER SPORTS — Several blog posts last week as well as my Sunday Outdoors section report about recent storms, unstable snow conditions and a spike in avalanche fatalities were both prophetic and out of date.
At least two more snow-goers died in Inland Northwest avalanches over the weekend:
The Kootenay Pass fatality involved a many in a party of four from Nelson. They were backcountry skiing in the Lightning Strike area, southwest of the highways yard at the top of the pass.
In both fatal accidents, other members of the parties were partially buried by the slides but were rescued.
The Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center had posted a forecast on Friday rating the avalanche hazard in the Selkirks-Cabinet region as considerable ranging to high in wind-loaded aspects. The report noted that a human-triggered avalanche had been reported on Tuesday with no injuries.
The Canadian Avalanche Centre had issued a special warning for British Columbia last week, as a result of an extended dry period in late January and early February.
“That long drought left the surface of the snowpack in very bad shape,” said the centre's Karl Klassen. “Now the new snow is sitting on one of the worst weak layers we’ve seen in a few years.”
The weakness is one to two meters deep, resulting in very large avalanches when triggered, Klassen said.
Click continue reading to read the sheriff's report on the Saturday, Feb. 22, avalanche near the Montana-Idaho border that killed Bryan William Harlow, age 49, of Libby.
WINTER SPORTS — The avalanche that killed a snowmobiler last weekend near Ketchum — while a woman survived even though she'd been buried for 90 minutes — is detailed in his video report from Sawtooth Avalanche Center.
It's short, instructive and worth watching in this period of winter weather that's spawned a rash avalanche accidents.
WINTER SPORTS — Recent weather is creating hazards. Be careful out there.
Massive avalanche in B.C. prompts warnings there and in Alberta
The Canadian Avalanche Centre issued a high-hazard warning for British Columbia and Alberta after learning of a massive slide on Wednesday near Fernie, B.C., destroyed 200-year-old trees and ran past historical avalanche boundaries.
WINTER SPORTS — Snow that piled up in Western mountains after snow-drought conditions in January has created hazards that have caused a spike in avalanche fatalities among skiers and snowmobilers.
The nine deaths from avalanches across the Western U.S. in the past 11 days have put a halt to what had been the least-deadly season for avalanches in 16 years.
An avalanche near Ketchum, Idaho, on Sunday buried four snowmobilers, killing an Idaho man whose wife survived being buried under the snow for about 90 minutes, officials in Blaine County said.
Two Wisconsin men were killed Saturday in a Colorado avalanche while backcountry skiing.
Five people were caught in avalanches over the weekend in Montana.
On Feb. 11, an avalanche in the Wallowa Mountains of eastern Oregon killed two backcountry skiers and seriously injured two others.
For most of the winter, primarily because of the dramatic lack of snow in the Western mountains, only six people had been killed in avalanches, according to data from the National Avalanche Center in Bozeman. This was the lowest number through the first week of February since at least the 1998-99 winter season.
However, with the nine deaths in the past week or so, the winter's total is now 15, which is about average.
“A lot of snow in a little amount of time, you get avalanches,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Burke in Seattle.
On average, about 28 people a year die in avalanches in the U.S., according to Brian Lazar of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. He said the deadliest seasons on record were 2007-08 and 2009-10, when 36 died in each of those winters.
When avalanche deaths were first tracked starting in the 1950s, an average of four people died each year in avalanches.
But the growth in winter backcountry recreation on skis, snowboards and snowmobiles has led more people into the potential hazards.
With more heavy snow falling in portions of the Inland Northwest — notably the North Cascades — backcountry travelers should be on high alert and willing to bail out for a backup plan.
WINTER SPORTS — Friends of the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center are sponsoring an avalanche education scholarship in memory of Doug Abromeit, a Sandpoint native who was instrumental in starting the National Avalanche Center. Abromeit died last fall.
” We will send one student a year to a Level 1 avalanche class under the Doug Abromeit Avalanche Scholarship,” said Kevin Davis of the IPAC based in Sandpoint. ”Doug was born and raised in Sandpoint and his family still resides here. Doug retired from the Forest Service in 2011, last stationed in Ketchum, Idaho.”
The scholarship will be introduded at a special public program on Friday (Jan. 17), 4:30 p.m., at the Caribou Room in the Day Lodge at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Several presenters will highlight Abromeit’s contributions to avalanche education, the history of avalanche control in the USA, and development of the National Avalanche Center and the Idaho Panhandle center.
WINTER SPORTS — The avalanche that killed a snowmobiler riding in the Gallatin Mountains on New Year’s Day – the first Montana avalanche death in more than a year – was somewhat of an anomaly, according to an expert that spoke with the Billings Gazette.
“Most avalanches happen when people are on the slope,” said Doug Chabot, of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. That can happen when a snowmobiler is riding across a hill or uphill, or when a skier or snowboarder is carving turns downhill.
But the avalanche that killed 46-year-old Burton Kenneth Gibson of Bozeman and partially buried another rider was what’s called a remote trigger avalanche – when a slide is caused by collapsing of the snowpack from what may look like a relatively flat or safe area.
The story by outdoor reporter Brett French is instructive to snow goers.
“When there’s a weak layer in the snowpack, in order to get an avalanche we need that weak layer to collapse,” Chabot said.
He said the unstable snowpack found in the mountains of southwest and south-central Montana right now is like a book resting atop potato chips.
For more detailed information:
The snowmobiler killed in an avalanche on New Year’s Day, and his companions, were riding in an area of the Gallatin National Forest that is closed to winter motorized use.
“The area they were in, Onion Basin up Portal Creek, is closed to snowmobiles,” said Mariah Lueschen, a spokesperson for the forest.
Onion Basin is in the 155,000-acre Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area.
WINTER SPORTS — The snow has barely piled up in the mountains and the first avalanche accidents of the year are being reported in the West.
Two levels of avalanche courses are being offered in the next few months at Schweitzer Mountain Resort organized by SOLE (Selkirk Outdoor Leadership Education) based in Sandpoint.
An AIARE Level 2 Course is set for Dec.7-8 and 14-15.
The four-day course provides backcountry leaders the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge from Level 1 instruction by adding the the evaluation of factors critical to stability evaluation and decision-making skill development. Cost: $495.
An AIARE Level 1 Course is set for Jan. 18-20.
This three-day course on Decision Making In Avalanche Terrain is open to students ages 16-25 with scholarships available.
An AIARE Level 1 Course is set for Jan. 18-20.
This three-day course on Decision Making In Avalanche Terrain is open to students ages 16 and older with scholarships available for youths.
WINTER SPORTS — This film, “Ode to Avalanche,” will be awesome to some winter recreationists and frightening to others.
Either way, I hope it at least prompts you to check in with a regional avalanche forecast — such as the weekly bulletin by the Idaho Panhandle Avalance Center — before heading into the winter backcountry.
Update: Read this new enlightening Elk Mountain avalanche report on an slide that buried a skier near Marias Pass in Glacier National Park. It was close to being much, much worse.
AVALANCHE — A woman who was buried by an avalanche at Crystal Mountain on Wednesday was rescued by a group of skiers, one of whom had a helmet cam on during the entire event.
She was wearing no avalanche beacon to help her rescuers with the search, according to news reports, but that's not confirmed here.
This chilling video shows how very, very close she came to dying in a tomb of snow and how her well trained and equipped rescuers kept calm, focused and did the job.
There's no gore here, but a lot to see, hear and absorb if you're a backcountry skier, snowshoer or snowmobiler.
The avalanche happened at minute 4:30 in the video. The rescuers found her and were yelling to give her a breath at 12 minutes — more than 7 minutes after she was buried!
After a visit to a hospital, she was OK.