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 Post subject: Pucker Face, 1st fatality of the season, firsthand view
PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:10 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 11:42 am
Posts: 529
Location: Oakland, CA
On 12/26/2013 I was involved in a fatal accident outside the boundary of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

I wrote an article on the accident that covers the events leading up to the accident in a fairly objective manner, and then transitions to opinion and takeaways from the event. It's the single most comprehensive document that's been written to date about this accident. Many thanks to the Chief Editor of The Avalanche Review for running an article contributed by a complete no-name and newcomer to the avalanche instruction and professional community.

You may be interested in reading the article here (Page 20):
http://www.americanavalancheassociation ... _Cover.pdf

I've also discussed a lot about the accident in the TGR thread here:
http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/show ... JHMR-ropes

Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center accident report with detailed information about snowpack and weather:
http://www.jhavalanche.org/media/events ... 20face.pdf


I'm curious about any specific topics the article makes you think about, and what kinds of questions linger that were not directly addressed in the article.


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 Post subject: Re: Pucker Face, 1st fatality of the season, firsthand view
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:00 pm 
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That was well written.

It's sad how similar all these post-reports end up being. That's not a comment on your writing style or insight, but rather how the fallibility of human behavior draws us however slowly, almost unswervingly towards doom.

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 Post subject: Re: Pucker Face, 1st fatality of the season, firsthand view
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:54 pm 
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That's true. Don't get too exited when there finally is some powder. Choose your riding partners wisely, get a real smartass in your group that isn't afraid to tell you you're wrong. I avoid large groups, split them up. More than 4 is too large for me, i'd rather go with just that guy I trust.
And most important, think for yourself and dont be afraid to turn around. All these stories might have a different outcome if one or two persons had the balls to say "i'm not doing this, it's stupid and dangerous". You can be that person, that makes you the hero not the loser.

Other than that, I think you guys did very well dealing with the resque in such a difficult situation.

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 Post subject: Re: Pucker Face, 1st fatality of the season, firsthand view
PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:28 am 
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Nice write up Schralph, it's not always easy to write up a accident report that you were involved with. Good job being proactive and stepping up to the challenge. You cover a lot of good points.

It's interesting how human factors contribute to so many of the accidents every season. The mind's ability to rationalize choices made before all information has been gathered and perpetuate people down the wrong path is the downfall of many in avalanche terrain. It's one of the hardest things for people to overcome.

I think that you have to practice turning away from lines. Every season, I will knowingly go to the top of an unsafe line, look down it, and evaluate why I am not going to ride it. I then go to a safer line that I already planned, or I go back to the car.

People will choose a line to ski days before they go. This is planning, nothing wrong with that, but they focus on the objective. The more people who are involved, the harder it is to communicate, and the harder it is to change the objective. Mob mentality.

I have a rule, the more people who are going, the more of a shit show, the mellower the objective. If more people enter the group, especially last minute, we'll either split up or I'll just go to the resort or do something else altogether. I'm pretty antisocial that way and it helps.


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 Post subject: Re: Pucker Face, 1st fatality of the season, firsthand view
PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:27 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:17 pm
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Location: Where the air meets the reefer
Wow- impressive and informative, SM. You really seemed to have processed the incident and gained a new perspective from it. I especially like the root cause counter-measure analogy. I think it's important to draw parallels to the real world; like you said, institutionalize.

I think we messaged back and forth in December. I would've made it down there if my plans hadn't changed. I've been in a similar situation (critical injuries, nothing fatal though), and the "rats in a maze" analogy really hit home for me. Sure, hindsight is always 20/20, but I supposed the goal (mine, anyways) is to travel safely and function at all times with conservative decision making and route travel. Since my accident (and I'm sure others can relate), my favorite part of snowboarding has been going home. Thanks, for writing, Alex. Cheers. :guinness:

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 Post subject: Re: Pucker Face, 1st fatality of the season, firsthand view
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 5:31 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:29 am
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Location: Denver
Thanks for posting. Great article that I will reread in the future.


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 Post subject: Re: Pucker Face, 1st fatality of the season, firsthand view
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:55 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2004 6:27 pm
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Location: Denver
Ah schralp I missed you were involved in this. :cry:

Sorry man. I can't imagine. I've been doing a lot of self evaluation this year. Especially since George's passing in an avalanche 4 days after your accident. I was not involved.

One of my best friends got caught in a small slide, a sluff really in Washington a few weeks ago. Got beat up pretty good. Torn ACL for sure. It took quite a bit to get back to the car that evening. I've been going over that incident in my head since it happened. Great, solid observations you have outlined. Thanks for sharing so we can all learn.


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 Post subject: Re: Pucker Face, 1st fatality of the season, firsthand view
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 6:00 pm 
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Location: 109-blocks-of-watch-yo-f'n-back, CA
ieism wrote:
That's true. Don't get too exited when there finally is some powder. Choose your riding partners wisely, get a real smartass in your group that isn't afraid to tell you you're wrong. I avoid large groups, split them up. More than 4 is too large for me, i'd rather go with just that guy I trust.
And most important, think for yourself and dont be afraid to turn around. All these stories might have a different outcome if one or two persons had the balls to say "i'm not doing this, it's stupid and dangerous". You can be that person, that makes you the hero not the loser.

Other than that, I think you guys did very well dealing with the resque in such a difficult situation.


:thumbsup:
Yes to all of this. Though I think four or five is the ideal group size.

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 Post subject: Re: Pucker Face, 1st fatality of the season, firsthand view
PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 6:57 pm 
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Thanks for sharing, your take on what I'm sure is a very tough subject. Hopefully we can all learn from it

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 Post subject: Re: Pucker Face, 1st fatality of the season, firsthand view
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 6:44 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:44 pm
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Very educational. Thanks for taking the time to thoroughly examine your experience.


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 Post subject: Re: Pucker Face, 1st fatality of the season, firsthand view
PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:16 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 6:18 pm
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Thanks for sharing your story.


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 Post subject: Re: Pucker Face, 1st fatality of the season, firsthand view
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 11:38 am 
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Alex, good write up and glad you were able to get it published for others to learn from. It is crazy the human factor and the results it has on decision making. I learned a lot from you on our tour earlier this year on the human factor. Hopefully you're keeping the pink belt alive!

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