on Saturday afternoon I was unable to move due to all the snow around my skis and I thought for sure my partner was dying...
Jeez, I am nervously expecting a backlash here, but not wanting one... oh well here goes:
Man, respectfully, it sounds like you made a much bigger error in judgement that Max did, especially given relative experience levels (my guess). Max actively sought low angle terrain that was heavily used by high impact things like biles. A sensible thing to do considering his group, their objectives and the recent weather he was dealing with. You guys went into Tiger territory and got bitten, luckily not eaten.
(I hate rules. I'm not an avalanche safety evangelist... but I do take it really seriously and that's because I want to, not because I was told to)
Yeah - we did make a much bigger error in judgement - no doubt about it. I got caught up in the fun of scrubfest and I bent a whole lot of my personal avy rules that are normally more rigid. Before the slope broke I was very nervous about our situation and just hoping to get through the tour so I could start a new day with my avy rules rigidly in place again. When the slope cracked open and swallowed me up all I had left in terms of hope for my continued living was the transceiver strapped to my chest. I wouldn't want anyone to be down there without that. But ultimately it's a personal choice. At any rate, I'll always encourage people to carry the gear and get an education on the subject.
max - check here:
https://charlie.ltcc.cc.ca.us/ARC/V5/vonline.asp and search for the keyword avalanche. It looks like all the courses on their winter schedule have gone by, but they'll be posting a spring schedule soon. You can also try emailing Rose Hackett - she coordinates their wilderness program.
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 4:15 pm Posts: 2578 Location: san diego CA
Point taken Damian. You are 100% correct. The signs were there. Questions were asked and mistakes were made. We all got lucky. And I will walk away a bit smatter. And hopefully I can pass on some knowledge. And hopefully I wont be in that position again.....but the dragon is always there. Case in point last season at Mammopth Mountain they had an inbounds slide after patroll had done control work all morning. About 1 pm it got hot , someone made a turn and it all came down. So it can happen and it will happen. Just try to expect it. And prepair.
Biggest thing I learned is if it does happen and someone is burried , can you move around?
Im looking at carrying some verts just soif Im the one standing I want to be able to walk on the surface of the debri so I can search
Joined: Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:06 pm Posts: 157 Location: Kings Beach, Ca
Just to strike a little more fear (trust me, it's good for you), there were reports last weekend of naturally occurring slides on 30 degree slopes...so yeah it was bad out there. Also even though you were by snomo tracks it still doesn't deem the area safe...5 ft. of terrain can make a big difference (look at the pic on pg 14 of staying alive for a good example)
_________________ f$ck you and those two weird planks you rode in on!
First, congratulations on getting your wife out into the backcountry and its cool that you both had a great time. It is an awesome sport and I am always stoked to hear that other girls are getting out and rippin. Props to your wife for being a tough backcountry betty.
Next, my two cents: avalanche danger has been pretty high in the sierras recently. If you want to check conditions this is a good website with lots of information on the current snowpack and stability www.sierraavalanchecenter.org
And like SF said there are a lot of places that rent beacon, probe, shovels, and splitboards, if your not ready to make the investment. I think Vertical Sports in South Lake rents them.
Taking a course is a great idea, since it sounds like you guys plan to be spending more time in the backcountry. Some of the Tahoe ski resorts have weekend avalanche courses (Kirkwood does), and REI does too, but those are really pricey compared to the LTCC one that SF mentioned.
After what happened in Wyoming, I think I will be brushing up on my snowpack evaluation and avalanche safety skills. It can happen to anybody. Really glad that nobody was seriously hurt or worse.
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 4:26 pm Posts: 407 Location: S.F. Bay Area
The stream of replies definitely altered after my initial reply... But glad it's all being received in the spirit it's intended... Definitely, this year especially, have to be safe if you are going to play out there...
Nice reference to Dick P's short paper on the 5 points... I took my avy 1 course with him at Snowbridge a few years back when he was still teaching. Cool guy, and definitely a lot of exp...
Oh, and regarding snowmobile tracks... Check this years stats on who's been dieing in the backcountry the most lately... It's still the 'bilers. So, be weary of their judgement calls....
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:30 am Posts: 6 Location: Oaktown
patroller -- no problem at all. No one likes to be told that they f*cked up, but it's way better than getting buried! I obviously didn't see the danger so I am thankful for the kick in the ass. I have offered similar comments to climber friends who were new to the sport and on track to getting killed!
I just ordered a second beacon+shovel+probe from tahoe mountain sports
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 10:15 am Posts: 83 Location: San Mateo, CA
and this is so obvious but....
please practice with your beacons. it shocks me everytime when a "simple" search takes more time than i think it should...the heart starts to beat a bit faster, the shoveling with a bit more haste, and then sheer panic as the damn beacon says that i am within 0.2m, and its beeping like crazy, yet i still don't have the "body" up and breathing (the body, in this case being another beacon in a bag)...
This is a great post, I love the fact that everyone is being respectful to each other opinions. A lot more can be gained through discussions like this. My two cents, the emphasis should be more on education and practice, a beacon and a probe are worthless if you do not know how to use them and even education can be limiting without experience. What I find to be the most beneficial for myself is staying up to date on avy reports. I read the avy report every day 1st thing in the morning even if I am not going out, so I can get an idea of the history of the snowpack, what aspects and angles have been sliding, accident reports and what bad decisions where made, etc. I feel I am able to make better decisions this way. I hope to get my wife out soon, we both have beacons, but I will be doing as max did and going to my favorite low angled spot and not taking any chances w the most important thing in my life. It sounds like P420 and SanFran had a real check, I would love to hear their report on the slide, and where they feel they went wrong.
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 4:15 pm Posts: 2578 Location: san diego CA
The thing I took away from it was after the slide I couldnt get to a seach fast enough because my skis wre on my feet and buried a couple of feet down. It would have been nice to have some verts( See JimW) or something that you could use to move up and down the slope quicker. If you are in split mode you can go downhill pretty easy but you need to move faster over the debri field.
It would be good also if every member of the party had a radio. A cheap set like everyone uses these days. That way you can quickly verify who is above surface ad who is not. Yelling wont work. We were only seperated by about 75 feet , I was yelling my ass off and SanFrantastico and Leo could hear us. When they yelled back ( upslope) we couldnt hear them. So at least a whistle would be better than nothing.
Another thing that was bad is because we had just meet , we werent sure of everyones names. A good talk before taking off can correct some of these issues but the worst part was not being able to move in an effecient manner.
Anyone have suggestions other than verts? Verts would also be good if you loose your skis/board in a slide , you could at least still walk out