"Some of you may have heard about a cornice triggering an avalanche yesterday in the Ellery Lake area. One person was seriously hurt when the large cornice he was standing on fractured above "Chute Out". The skier suddenly found himself tumbling down Chute Out in a large sluff avalanche. Though he miraculously survived the tumbling and ended up on the surface, he was severely injured with eight broken ribs, a punctured lung, crushed shoulder and severe knee injuries. This is a sobering reminder that cornices often break back much farther from the edge than you might think."
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 3:11 pm Posts: 122 Location: Los Angeles, CA
The fact that it did not trigger a slab avalanche is a positive indicator of snow stability -- Tremper says that "cornices are equivalent to using explosives" in terms of avy testing.
Happy to hear that this guy survived. I would be anxious dropping the Chute Out on a bluebird day with no cornice. For this guy to make it out alive descending the couloir in the middle of an avalanche is amazing.
I'm sure the self-rescue was fairly epic. From now on I think I am going to take my 30m rando rope to anchor when testing cornices, not just for rappels, and not just for remote backcountry trips. Can't hurt, might help.
"was reminded of that fact myself after some personal stupidity of my own this weekend w/ a cornice . fortunately, i also found a stable snowpack after the drop and was able to stop above the chunk and sluff pile."