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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Outdoors blog

Avalanche at Schweitzer points out ice layer

WINTER SPORTS -- I'm just picking up on in-bounds snow slides that buried at least two skiers last Friday on the Headwall at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Both were rescued by other skiers and no injuries were reported, but apparently the situations could have easily gone the other way.

Conditions change, but the main thing to be aware of is the underlying ice layer that could persist in some areas.

Read on for Schweitzer avalanche incident posts from last week on

Posted by GoldMember 12-7-12

I just heard that there was an in-bounds avalanche at Schweitzer this morning on Headwall. A friend of mine triggered it and was carried about 75 yards and buried, except that he was able to breathe so he was lucky. He had to be extricated as he wasn't able to unbury himself. Details are pretty sketchy at this point but it caught at least one other person (saw a total of three at TGR but not what I heard) who was partially buried. Several people trying to get to my buddy were wiping out on the rain layer that was the slide bed with one person sliding into a tree. No serious injuries but my friend is feeling pretty beat up right now. 10" of fluff over blue ice all over the mountain right now. This reminds me of two years ago with an early December layer that never healed and went VERY BIG in places late in the year. It's going to be another difficult year in the back country so everyone needs to pay heed to this all season. Predictability is going to be virtually impossible as the season wears on. Be careful out there.

Posted by GoldMember 12-9-12:

So, it turns out that TWO of my friends got caught in separate slides, same pitch, within two minutes of each other. The first one was buried with his head downhill and stuck until someone happened along (within 30 seconds), saw his ski that was still attached and dug out his head. Time under somewhere around a minute and a half. Thank God he was seen that quickly. The second guy came to the top of a roll, stopped, looked at it and figured 'What the hell', took two turns and went down head first. He struck a rock with his helmet, got spun to head uphill then was buried to his chest. He dug himself out within about 15 minutes. All are lucky and no injuries.

That layer will be with us until the snow melts off in May. This will be deep and a bit unpredictable. Be very careful this season, it's going to be sketchy.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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