Splitboard.com Forums

The World's first exclusive splitboard discussion forums






It is currently Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:26 am

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 42 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:03 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 4:15 pm
Posts: 2571
Location: san diego CA
I am posting this thread not as an "armchair quarterback" of any recent incidents but more from observations of a few seasons with other board members.

Avalanches are a natural act in nature of a release from too much weight resting on a weak under surface
Avalanches can happen any time if there is snow on the ground and a slope (steep or not)

Avalanches do not care who you are , how old you are, if you are a pro or a hack , if you have kids or not.

They do give some warning sometimes, and sometimes they dont

having years of knowledge in sketchy avalanche terrain doesnt keep you from getting caught or killed in one.

having more people in the group, more experience,somebody with more "first decents" doesnt help at all.

We all need to take a step back and remember the basic warning signs
below is a list of "red flag" warning signs from Avy level1 and 2. If you are violating these, you may want to step back and ask yourself if dying for pow is worth it

ANYTIME snow falls at a rate of 1 inch per hour or more

ANYTIME wind is above 35mph and you can see snow moving around ( although 25 mph is a better benchmark)

Wind Loaded leeward slopes

Convex rollover wind loaded slopes

cracks, settling ...or 'whomping"

WHOMPING is a HUGE sign of the slope saying "get the fuck off of me"

Whomping is like a dog growling right before he bites you

Rapid warming with rollers , without rollers

wind plumes up on high peaks

Any avalanche forecast from an avalanche forecast center rated "High or Extreme"

and please, to all you who are pro, near pro or like to hang with pro's - avalnches have no skill recognition. they will sweep you up just like they will the guy who just parks in thwe wrong spot along the highway

I will list some, please feel free to add more


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 9:12 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2004 6:27 pm
Posts: 1449
Location: Denver
TEX wrote:

ANYTIME wind is above 35mph and you can see snow moving around ( although 25 mph is a better benchmark)



I'd like to modify that. I believe snow transport can happen with winds as little as 10-15mph. 25-35mph being optimal. Once you get over 45mph, it's being blow out into space and due to the higher speeds you won't see snow drifting into huge pillows and such. Still 25-45mph winds are pretty much the norm and snow transport by wind has probably set up more deadly scenarios than anything else out there, including heavy snowfall.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:00 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:15 pm
Posts: 37
Location: Greater Vancouver, Canada
Good thread.

I like acronyms, since they're easy to remember. ALPTRUTH is the one I always think of because I always carry an avaluator card in my pack. The Avaluator system was developed by the CAC

A - avalanches - are there signs of slab activity in the area within the last 48 hours
L- loading - was there loading by snow, wind, or rain in the area within the last 48 hours
P- path - are you in an avalanche path or start zone
T - terrain - are there gullies, trees or cliffs that the increase the consequence of being caught
R - rating - is the danger rating considerable or higher
U - unstable sow - are there signs of unstable snow such as whumpfing, cracking or hollow sounds
TH - thaw / instability - has there been recent significant melting of the snow surface by sun, rain or warm air.

Answer each question, every Yes = 1 point. If 0-2 use normal caution, if 3-4 use caution, and if 5-7 not recommended. Remember that even at 0-2 it is still imperative to use caution and continually assess the snow, terrain, weather etc.

The second component of the Avaluator system is just as valuable and important, and this is to determine the risk based on the danger rating (bulletin) and the type of terrain (simple, challenging, or complex).

Read lots more about it here - http://www.avalanche.ca/cac/training/online-course/pre-trip-planning

I vaguely remember the acronym FACETS, but couldn't remember the concept, so Google'd it -http://backcountrybeacon.com/2010/02/helpful-avalanche-safety-acronyms-alp-truth-and-facets/


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:15 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:29 pm
Posts: 78
Thanks for your thoughtful posts. Well said, Tex, and great referral, andbrown.

Arch


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:31 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:34 pm
Posts: 10
I came across this interview with Ed Viesturs that I thought dovetailed well with the above comments. For those of you who don't know him, here's an exerpt from Wikipedia: "Ed Viesturs is one of the world's premier high-altitude mountaineers. He is one of only 26 people and the only one from the United States to have climbed all eight-thousander peaks. He has summited peaks of more than 8,000 meters for a total of 21 times, including Mount Everest seven times, which makes him the third person with most total summits, behind Phurba Tashi Sherpa Mendewa and the Spanish climber Juanito Oiarzabal who have reached 25 summits. He has reached all of the aforementioned summits without supplementary oxygen."

One of the things Viesturs is known for is his resoluteness for safety - on one of his trips to Everest, he turned back within 300' of the summit because he felt conditions were not favorable.

Into Thin Error: Mountaineer Ed Viesturs on Making Mistakes <http://goo.gl/ECasc>

Ride safely, fellow splitters and friends.

BG


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:26 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2005 11:09 pm
Posts: 682
Location: white room
Killclimbz wrote:
TEX wrote:

ANYTIME wind is above 35mph and you can see snow moving around ( although 25 mph is a better benchmark)



I'd like to modify that. I believe snow transport can happen with winds as little as 10-15mph. 25-35mph being optimal. Once you get over 45mph, it's being blow out into space and due to the higher speeds you won't see snow drifting into huge pillows and such. Still 25-45mph winds are pretty much the norm and snow transport by wind has probably set up more deadly scenarios than anything else out there, including heavy snowfall.

Just want to point out that at higher wind speeds, loaded areas are more likely to be lower down, away from ridge tops. Also, changes in wind direction can cross load slopes with lower wind speeds.
It doesn't matter how much knowledge you have, what the conditions are, or what your pits revealed, every time you drop in you are rolling the dice, just sometimes with better odds than others.

_________________
Ridin' Dirty


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:43 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:41 am
Posts: 278
Location: Altadena SoCal
fustercluck wrote:
just sometimes with better odds than others.

^^ Truth!
That's why we read books and have threads like this one. . . To increase our odds.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:19 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:03 pm
Posts: 221
Location: British Columbia
http://www.avalanche.ca/cac/bulletins/forecaster-blog

I thought the article above, the incremental loading one was interesting. He mentions how people don't report avalanche incidents often. People can get embarrassed that they have been caught in an avalanche, its admitting that you may have made an error in judgement. Its too bad, because the info is good, I like to check the incident database to see whats been moving.

I am definitely not an expert, but I think people need to sometimes just relax and be happy to just be out there, rather than having to bag the best line every time you go out. Get out your swallowtail, and shred that 30 degree slope :thumpsup:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:49 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 5:58 pm
Posts: 401
Location: slc
A message I get from the original post, is to not get overly confident from a perceived "expert halo" (AKA a false sense of security due to experience), which can increase risk tolerance, and lead to a bad scene. Also the bottom line is it's the actions we take, and not any other perspective or attitude in our heads, that determines if we get caught in a slide. Good things to keep in mind and I welcome the reminder, thanks Tex.

My two cents on a couple points:
TEX wrote:
Avalanches are a natural act in nature...

Avys are typically classified as natural, or some type of non-natural (skier-triggered, explosive-triggered, etc). OK that's a technicality, but the reason I mention it, is that presence of natural slides typically suggests greater hazard, as compared to presence of comparable slides from only human (non-natural) triggers.

TEX wrote:
Avalanches can happen any time if there is snow on the ground and a slope (steep or not)

I'd offer that slope steepness is of primary concern. We can of course greatly mitigate avy risk by avoiding being on, under, or adjacent to steeper (~30+ degree) slopes. It's pretty much impossible for an avy to occur if nothing in vicinity is over 25 degrees. Utah's current persistent sketchy snowpack inspired me to buy an inclinometer last month and refine my slope angle awareness. There's also an app for that.

TEX wrote:
having more people in the group, more experience... doesnt help at all.

Group size is pretty key: If you're solo, then you are operating with no immediate support should you need it. Having someone else around to dig you out, deal with your compound fractures, or suggest that you not drop into that sketchy loaded terrain trap, certainly can help. If the group size is too large, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage group dynamics, make consensus decisions, avoid skiing on top of each other, find safe spots, etc, and that can lead to avy trouble. I like a group of 3-5 people.

Experience and knowledge definitely helps avoid avalanches, and deal with the aftermath. I certainly put myself in more avy danger when I was starting out, and had no backcountry experience nor education. It also can help if you go with people with experience in medical professions, backcountry rescue, etc if there are pieces to be picked up.

Sorry if nitpicking; my wife and some equally novice backcountry friends are thinking of attending an avy intro course tomorrow, plus I've heard woomphing this season on I think 6 or 7 different days, so stuff discussed in this thread is forefront in my mind at present.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:45 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:10 pm
Posts: 1410
Location: UT
Great topic Tex, thanks for starting an alternate conversation on the matter of avy fatalities and risk.

Speaking only for myself... I've found I just don't like taking avy risk at all and I've resigned myself to very safe lines. Most likely it's age and an acknowledgement of all the stupid shit I did when I was in my teens, twenties and thirties. "Lucky to be alive" is an understatement and luckier still that I didn't kill someone else. Each passing year requires more attention to health and fitness just to keep at it, so any undue risk is off the table for me.

A few years back I was on a lift with a girlfriend and she asked; "What are you going to do when you can't do this anymore?" Frankly I didn't know how to respond. I finally told her that if "this" is defined as having fun making turns, then I plan to make turns into old age and I believe the key to satisfying that simple goal is by minimizing risk. Continuing to carve even the humblest of lines in the mountains is all I can really ask of this sport that started out on my local golf course riding a glorified water ski (Snurfer) with a rope on the nose.

Think long term and take in the broader view as you venture out to revel in the mountains goodness and hopefully you'll all live to be grumpy old meadow skippers :D Be safe friends...

_________________
Experts tell me I'm not a serious rider; riding boards that are too long with the incorrect boot and binding setup and I'm not having fun...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:12 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:08 pm
Posts: 14
boardgeezer wrote:
I came across this interview with Ed Viesturs that I thought dovetailed well with the above comments. For those of you who don't know him, here's an exerpt from Wikipedia: "Ed Viesturs is one of the world's premier high-altitude mountaineers. He is one of only 26 people and the only one from the United States to have climbed all eight-thousander peaks. He has summited peaks of more than 8,000 meters for a total of 21 times, including Mount Everest seven times, which makes him the third person with most total summits, behind Phurba Tashi Sherpa Mendewa and the Spanish climber Juanito Oiarzabal who have reached 25 summits. He has reached all of the aforementioned summits without supplementary oxygen."

One of the things Viesturs is known for is his resoluteness for safety - on one of his trips to Everest, he turned back within 300' of the summit because he felt conditions were not favorable.

Into Thin Error: Mountaineer Ed Viesturs on Making Mistakes <http://goo.gl/ECasc>

Ride safely, fellow splitters and friends.

BG


Um linky no worky.

This thread is $$$ btw. Thanks all!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:08 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2005 8:56 pm
Posts: 470
Location: Meyers, CA
http://explore-mag.com/2831/adventure/t ... d-delusion

"I do a lot of presentations about mountain sports, and sometimes share a list of dead friends to remind myself and the audience that the hidden price for the stunning photographs is all-too-regularly life itself. There are 27 names on my list. Not one of those friends died while driving to the mountains. Not one died on a commercial airline flight. To equate the risks of mountain sports to everyday activities like driving or even the chance of death from cancer is completely idiotic. Every friend on my list drove to the mountains a lot, and some even wrecked vehicles and spent time in the hospital from those crashes. But they died doing mountain sports."

Good thoughts on this topic from Will Gadd.

My own take, is that it is ok to enjoy dangerous activities, but I'd rather be honest about the risk than cover it up with bullshit, and like others my own risk tolerance has definitely changed over time.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Avalanches Death and Exemption
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:38 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:29 pm
Posts: 78
RioLeoOne wrote:

Into Thin Error: Mountaineer Ed Viesturs on Making Mistakes http://goo.gl/ECasc

Ride safely, fellow splitters and friends.

BG

Um linky no worky.

This thread is $$$ btw. Thanks all!

Or try http://www.slate.com/blogs/thewrongstuff/2010/06/14/into_thin_error_mountaineer_ed_viesturs_on_making_mistakes.html


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 42 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4  Next

All times are UTC - 8 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  





Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group