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 Post subject: 20131123 : Japan : Tateyama avalanche
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:28 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 25, 2008 7:44 pm
Posts: 127
Location: Japan
I did not see it on this site yet. I thought it'd be worth mentionning. We've had a huge avie rip through Tateyama in Japan on the 23rd of november claiming 7 victims. A very sad and dark start to the season for the BC community out here. As always a painful reminder for all of us to stay sharp and educated.

I have collected some info below feel free to have look and discuss.

http://japanpeuf.50.forumer.com/tateyama-avalanche-2013-11-23-t1304092.html


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 Post subject: Re: 20131123 : Japan : Tateyama avalanche
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:52 pm 
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Location: Meyers, CA
Thanks for the links. I had looked but hadn't found anything. Very sad.

I'm just assuming the "layer of course grained-snow" were facets or surface hoar that formed early season before the recent big storm any idea if that's likely correct?

Quote is from this site:

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/news ... 0000c.html

Quote:
7 avalanche victims in Toyama suffocated: police
TATEYAMA, Toyama -- Police have identified the seven people who died in an avalanche on a mountain here over the weekend, saying all of them suffocated due to a snow slide.
The Toyama Prefectural Police force on Nov. 24 terminated its aerial search of any other people who could have been hit by the avalanche, which happened on Mount Masago in the Tateyama mountain range in Toyama Prefecture the day before.

The avalanche claimed the lives of seven skiers on the northern slope of the Obashiri ridge on 2,861-meter-high Mount Masago, which is part of the Northern Alps.

The seven victims were: Naoko Ihara, 59, from Tokyo's Setagaya Ward; Yukio Watanabe, 72, from the same ward; Tomohiko Sakaguchi, 46, from Kokubunji, Tokyo; Shigeki Honda, 55, from Tsurugashima, Saitama; Hiroko Endo, 58, from Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture; and Kenjiro Osada, 36, and his 44-year-old wife, Sachiko, from Tokyo's Itabashi Ward.

According to police, the Osadas apparently visited the mountain for skiing, while the five others were with a group of mountain skiers. Three of the seven victims were found among snow slide debris, while the remaining four were found buried in the snow about 100 meters away. One victim was discovered as deep as some two meters into the snow, while another was carrying an avalanche beacon, a device transmitting radio waves to signal the location of its holder.
"I can't believe it as my son was cautious about snowy mountains," said Osada's mother in a comment released following the incident. "It may be the only consolation that he died in the mountains, his favorite place," commented Watanabe's eldest son.

The sunny weather on Nov. 23 provided the perfect opportunity for skiers to enjoy the fresh snow as the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route connecting Toyama and Nagano prefectures was to be closed at the end of this month ahead of winter.

Hajime Iida, a section head at the Tateyama Caldera Sabo Museum in Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture, said a layer of coarse-grained snow was formed under an approximately 80- centimeter-thick layer of soft fresh snow in the Murodo area, some 2.5 kilometers away from the avalanche site, making the area prone to avalanches. Iida presumed that the deadly avalanche site had probably been in the same condition.

Acquaintances of the victims reminisced about their personalities. Yukio Watanabe was known as a sports lover who was often spotted jogging in his neighborhood and driving his road bike and sports car. He used to live with his mother and second son until several years ago but had been living by himself recently. "He always greeted me cheerfully whenever I saw him at the garbage collection site. I didn't know he was a skier, but he was always active. I can't believe this has happened to such a lively person," said a woman in the neighborhood.

The Osadas also often went skiing together, leading some to believe they were experienced mountain skiers. A 45-year-old self-employed man living in the same condominium told the Mainichi that he often saw the couple carrying skis to their car and replacing their tires with snow tires. "They seemed to be an outdoor-loving, happily-married couple. They appeared to often visit mountains on winter weekends. I think the husband also loved motorcycle touring. I'm surprised to hear about the accident."


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 Post subject: Re: 20131123 : Japan : Tateyama avalanche
PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:16 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 25, 2008 7:44 pm
Posts: 127
Location: Japan
Hi Dave,

The Japanese Avalanche Network analysis states that the weak layer was 4cm thick 1mm facets on top of a melt-freeze crust. Add 3 days of storm with 1.5 m of freshies and winds then you get a pretty sketchy situation. Link for the report is here:

http://nadare.jp/2013/11/131123.html

I have also recently added a link with but I'll add it here:

http://www.modestbike.com/dlp/index.php?/ongoing/tateyamanov23/

Ian was one of the 1st responders. It is a hard read and there is one big lesson in this one for all of us.


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 Post subject: Re: 20131123 : Japan : Tateyama avalanche
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:36 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:59 am
Posts: 272
Location: Amsterdam
Thanks for sharing that, i've heard from a friend who lives there now but couln't find any details. It's a sad way to start the season for sure.

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 Post subject: Re: 20131123 : Japan : Tateyama avalanche
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:08 pm 
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Posts: 116
Location: Helena, MT
Quote:
I have also recently added a link with but I'll add it here:
http://www.modestbike.com/dlp/index.php ... yamanov23/

Heavy stuff. Thanks for sharing

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 Post subject: Re: 20131123 : Japan : Tateyama avalanche
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:42 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 25, 2008 7:44 pm
Posts: 127
Location: Japan
The most gut-wrenching part for me is the fact that a large number of people were standing a mere meters away from some of the victims while they were suffocating and did nothing, zilch. If those guys had done something maybe Naoko-san would still be with us today.

I think the lesson here is that if you see a big slab avie (not talking little end of season point releases/sluffs) in a zone where people may have been, I don't care what you're up, you just go there right away and check to make sure nobody is burried. Every second counts.


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 Post subject: Re: 20131123 : Japan : Tateyama avalanche
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 7:35 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:08 am
Posts: 128
Location: Melbourne, Australia
SerreChe wrote:
I don't care what you're up, you just go there right away and check to make sure nobody is burried. Every second counts.


I'm not really commenting on this situation, more in general, but the first thing to do before committing to an avalanche rescue is to assess the risk of conducting that rescue with regard to a further avalanche.


SerreChe wrote:
a large number of people were standing a mere meters away from some of the victims while they were suffocating and did nothing, zilch


Sounds like they may not have been equipped with the knowledge to rescue someone, although this is pure speculation. Either way, it's a very sad situation and a reminder of the dangers of an early season snowpack.

Reading some of the avalanche reports in North America it sounds like there's a very similar situation (i.e. persistent weak layer depth/surface hoar under fresh snow) developing in the snowpack there on north slopes at higher elevations.


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 Post subject: Re: 20131123 : Japan : Tateyama avalanche
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:11 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 25, 2008 7:44 pm
Posts: 127
Location: Japan
I don't disagree with your 1st comment Method. You still have to go and check it out, if too dangerous then of course you have to stand pat, no point having further victims.

It is easy to be a monday morning quarterback behind his keyboard but In this case though given the elbowing of the path, the fact that most of the side of the mountain had purged and how far the tung of the debris field was from the start zone... I know what my decision would have been but to each his own.

You may be right about people out there not knowing what to do, that is a valid point. I saw pictures of people on site boot-packing a mellow slope with skis on their pack, not skinning. So maybe they do not have any beacons or do not know how to use them. The fact is still that there were many people at the camp site and near the debris field who did nothing so I doubt that such a high % of them did not have the proper equipment, if they didn't then it is a trully scary thought. This is actually a point that has been brought forward by the Japanese Media as well. The fact that many newcomers to the hobby are learning on the go without anybody elmering them. We've all been beginners at some stage but it does open another debate, namely whether people should have to take a minimum of courses / carry minimum equipment before going out in the BC.


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 Post subject: Re: 20131123 : Japan : Tateyama avalanche
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:23 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:08 am
Posts: 128
Location: Melbourne, Australia
SerreChe wrote:
It is easy to be a monday morning quarterback behind his keyboard


So true. I'm analysing this info from a hemisphere away with just a few photos, so I fully admit to being that ' monday morning quarterback'.

SerreChe wrote:
I know what my decision would have been


Looking at all the available photos I'm 99.9% sure I would've been searching alongside you. It would've been a very difficult situation. There looked to be one face that could have presented some exposure to searchers, but it had tracks so it probably wouldn't have been likely to slide while you were searching/digging. As you say, you at least need to identify the likelihood of the being anyone caught if you were unsure and I guess the quickest way, apart from visual clues e.g. a glove or ski would be do to do a beacon search.


:(


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 Post subject: Re: 20131123 : Japan : Tateyama avalanche
PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 12:02 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 25, 2008 7:44 pm
Posts: 127
Location: Japan
yup I hear you Method.

I did not speak to Ian whom I do not know but I spoke to Tracy and he was very surprised by the lack of empathy for the situation around that slide. That large group on one of Ian's pics really bothers me, they were really well sheltered in that spot.

I saw you've made some admin friend on SJ! :)


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 Post subject: Re: 20131123 : Japan : Tateyama avalanche
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:29 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 25, 2008 7:44 pm
Posts: 127
Location: Japan
Tracy put out his recollection of the events.

http://taurusoutdoors.blogspot.jp/2013/12/tateyama-23-november-2013_4.html

This is a must read. The pictures are very telling. The picture of the slide tells of the scale as does those of the crown and the debris field. Those guys put themselves on the line to try to rescue others. Totally selfless.


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