The Wasatch would probably be a great place to study heuristic traps as they apply to avalanches. I know that if I was in that area today, I would be instantly prone to 3 of the 4 heuristic traps.
1. Familiarity (skied it safely x times in the past). 2. Social Proof (other tracks on the slope, or just other groups in the area). 3. Scarcity (get it before that group does). The fourth is commitment ("I told my buddy last night that I would take him there today"), and depending on the day I could very well be prone to that too.
I would be curious how many people would have skied Cardiac Bowl today if there were no other groups, no other tracks, they weren't from around here (no familiarity) and they knew the forecast was for considerable danger. I definitely wouldn't. Even if your snow assessment skills were awesome and you figured you would assess the snow for yourself, skinning up that huge open avy path would be very committing. Better hope it stays stable!
I actually get nervous when I think about going to other mountain ranges because I rely so heavily on the huge amount of information available to us here. In other places there isn't even weather data, let alone a forecast center or conditions reports.
I've always thought that people don't go to the top because the skinning is harder on the steeper slope, and since they are all about pow turns, might as well stop when travel gets inefficient. Wind slabs might have played a role today too, though.
I think social proof, long as not solely used on its own, can be a tool used to supplement your existing knowledge of snowpack, conditions etc...we all take risks, and sometimes thats the factor that can bring your risk to an acceptable level. Its the same reason as to why we tour with other people or wear beacons, If we were all that confident with our decisions we would tour solo with no beacons ...Well granted I like touring with friends and enjoy their company as well.
I think its human nature to always feel a certain anxiety to go where no man has gone before, to venture into new territory
Another thing Cardiac has going for it is that its a clean runout and you will have 20 people to dig you out if anything goes
I reckon the first person or two that set that track was taking a calculated risk, then maybe moving on to another feature. They probably did not go to the top because there is a lot of rock slab in the high portions up there and they probably did not want to tickle it directly. I'm more surprised (not really) that the rest of the folks coming along later were happy to climb for 40 minutes or so under all that starting zone on climbers left which is more typically a route to avoid slide hazard from strong heating later in the year on the climbers right which catches a lot more direct sun. For my 2 cents, I'd have broken another route up the climbers right if I was going to join the festivities there at all. hard to imagine that the aspect of the climbers right is not stronger (less weak) overall. I guess this is called armchair touring
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:10 pm Posts: 1381 Location: UT
Got out this morning with Snovols for some glorious tree pow, it was exceptional. Thanks dude That said, by noon it may all be a memory as the sun was already affecting the snow at 8:45am 20-30°; SE through NE facing; 8600-9200'; no instabilities, exits remain hair raising
I started out yesterday putting a skinner up Kessler on the ridge between Lawnmower and Hanging Meadows. Towards the top, the pack got really hollow underneath and I was getting some collapsing on the steeper slopes. Turned around from that and hit George's Bowl/North Ivory instead. Found the pack there to be very solid and had an amazing day.
My takeaway is that things are generally stable but very slope-specific and not especially easy to evaluate from a distance.
Regarding Cardiac Bowl... not really high on my list of lines because the risk/reward never really lined up for me. If I'm going to incur the risk of skinning directly up a slide path it better be an epic line. I do like to ski the South face and also use it for easy access into Mill B or Mineral but never been one to farm laps on it.
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:55 am Posts: 977 Location: Wasatch
got out for a quick afternoon lap yesterday. finally starting to get over my sickness so it felt good to be moving again. was surprised that south facing LCC was still dry powder, even with the full force of the sun. There might be a crust today as the the top inch was getting just a tad damp, but the winds were moving most of that around anyway.
Went up Silly Fork to the Meadow Chutes. Poked around and dug several pits. On a West Facing Slope with an angle of 40 degrees dug a pit with an interested result. While cutting the snow for a CT the CT failed due to cutting with a saw. This scared me. All pits failed on the grapel rain grapel sandwhich. High part of meadow chutes rode like a dream though. It was a bit rough towards the bottom though due to crust. Windy for sure.