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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 9:14 pm 
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Location: powder central, bc, canuckistan
Aw jeez Storn i wasnt tryin ta be funney, taxes is serious shit!! i bin doin MATH son!!! thats f@#ked up!!
an sorry if ya miss my pot jokes?? i dont remember makin pot jokes?? users loose drugs buddy!!!
speakin of, and its not funney, i lost my stash :banghead: maybe thats why i got no jokes.
but really i think it must be you with issues, sorry to say, but just cuz you quit the kush dont mean its my problem to provide you with stimulation.
apart from that keep it up, interesting discussion.

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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:19 am 
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Lewmt, do you know a woman named Suzie Druckman? I work with her at the co-op in Bozeman and know she's way into kiting.

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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:32 am 
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Location: Montana
Nick - If she's the same Suzi that has a son named Josh that also kites - I've kited with her once down in the Big Hole last year....which is the destination for this weekend if anyone wants to join in...wandering in the hippy van.

Back to the topic - My thinking is that with the persistent weak layers in the snowpack this year the only really substantive thing that will change the snowpack to a fairly secure setup is for it to go isothermic for a day & re-freeze? Then its possible to focus on the more normal spring corn potential?

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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2012 6:29 am 
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Location: Colorado
Its helping out here in CO, but....

From CAIC:

"We are still seeing reasonably cold over-night lows so the upper snowpack layers are seeing a good freeze. Daytime temperatures around the 11,000 foot level are getting quite warm quickly and this is a bit disturbing, especially where there are still persistent weak layers lurking in the base layers of the snowpack."

It doesn't sound like it will completely cure our issues.

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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:03 pm 
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Location: St. Croix Falls, WI
Karkis.... you tasty bud smoking, high mountain shredding fellow....I'm calling your bluff. Canadians don't do taxes. :roll:

Good discussions in this thread.

Life is short...pick your path that is meant for you. It may be safer or contain more risk.

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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:37 am 
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lewmt wrote:
Nick - If she's the same Suzi that has a son named Josh...
Back to the topic - My thinking is that with the persistent weak layers in the snowpack this year the only really substantive thing that will change the snowpack to a fairly secure setup is for it to go isothermic for a day & re-freeze? Then its possible to focus on the more normal spring corn potential?

It is the same Suzie! Awesome person.
I think especially at upper elevation (i.e. the lines we all want to ride in the spring), going isothermal is hard to achieve completely. More likely for this season: on the first truly hot day in the mountains, when the first water hits the buried facet layers and depth hoar that still exists on some high-elevation slopes, we'll see some BIG releases. I suspect the stuff that does run on facets will step down to the ground. Sort of like June 2010.
What I'm hoping for (and what will happen at some point) is a few days of melt+deep freeze that consolidate the upper 1/2 of the snowpack. Early morning/night travel over the frozen surface will have little to no effect on the deeper layers lurking, and timing your descent perfectly will be of the essence.
This is all southwest MT specific, but probably applies to other continental snowpack areas this season.

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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:47 am 
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Location: Now Oaktowntastic
You'll find lots of details here:

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2012/03 ... nyway.html

Some of the rangers make pretty harsh assessments of the route/decision making. They are implying that it is not so much of a numbers game as I had originally supposed. I guess there is comfort in knowing that the incident could have been reasonably avoided with more conservative target and route selection. Of course we have no idea what stability clues they were observing as they climbed. How many of us have placed ourselves in the gut of an avalanche path on a moderate day, either climbing or riding? True though, ridgelines make for easier & safer climbing and staying home is safer than going out.

We are all taking on some level of unneccessary risk and those that take bigger risks more often face worse odds for long-term survival. :twocents:

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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:57 pm 
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Location: Park City
definitely a sobering read.

thanks for putting that up.

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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:23 pm 
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I'm glad that there's a thread for this discussion. I'm still somewhat in shock from these events, but enough time has passed that I'm beginning to consider them more analytically.

I think the rangers are being honest, not harsh, in their assessments. As someone who read TetonAT daily and had numerous communications with Steve, I struggled often with his decisionmaking process and am still struggling with what made Steve and Chris think that the southeast couloir on Ranger Peak was a good idea on 3/7.

I understand the "if it could happen to them, it could happen to any of us" way of thinking that's been expressed on this thread. However, for those of you who feel that way, I would suggest visiting jhavalanche.org and checking out the general conditions they were faced with. You can easily examine the historical forecasts and weather data and explore what kind of objectives you might have chosen that day. Personally, I would have stayed away from a SE facing avalanche path on the given day.

In the six days preceding the Wednesday Steve and Chris were killed (3/7), the Tetons had picked up ~35" of new snow at elevation with CONSISTENT west winds averaging about 20mph each day, often shifting between SW and NW. Again, the line faced SE. On 3/6 in particular, the mountains received 8" of new snow with a northwesterly wind averaging 18mph. That alone would have raised some red flags with me for southeast facing avalanche terrain even if you didn't consider the preceding few days. Personally, that line would have never crossed my radar of possibilities that given day, but Steve was definitely willing to accept a higher level of risk than me in the mountains. No doubt about that.

Many on here and in other discussions were surprised and a little shocked to learn that the BTNF's hazard rating was "moderate" on 3/7. It's wise to never forget that part of a "moderate" forecast means "large avalanches possible in isolated areas", such as those that have received new snow and a windload. This is where I believe a "danger rose" type graphical component (like I've seen in the Utah forecast) could help the BTNF out a bit.

I am not casting judgement. I think that one of the most important, lasting functions of avalanche incidents is to use all of the objective information available and try to learn from the outcomes.

On a tangent, I am curious to hear Teton locals' opinions on the BTNF forecast. I receive it daily (along with my local) because I spend a good amount of time in the Tetons. I don't mean to disrespect their forecasters, but in my opinion the BTNF is one of the worst forecasts I've ever seen. It lacks the specificity, detail, photo/video content, and narrative qualities of so many others I've used. A few friends and I have wondered over the last week how a better forecast would have influenced Steve and Chris's decisions.

Sorry for the novel, but these things have been on my mind for a while and this thread seemed a good place to express them. I'm very curious to here what others have to say.

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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:44 am 
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Location: Wydaho
I personally think the BTNF forecast is a good resource, however, I do agree that a danger rose would be a very useful addition. There is wealth of additional information on the jhavalanche.org site outside of the 7am and 5pm reports. I frequently visit the weather station raw data directory which provides updated information every 15 minutes. I also review the avalanche event map. Interesting to note that five days prior to the fatal incident on 3/7/12 a slide was reported on Peak 10,686ft just east of Ranger Peak. Similiar aspect, similar depth, and similar size to the slide that claimed the lives of Chris and Steve. The elevation was about 2,000 feet lower.

As for the JH News and Guide article by Angus M. Thuermer -- the quote from the search leader sticks in my mind:

Search leader Guerrieri would not call the pair’s decisions a mistake. “Different people are willing to accept different levels of risk,” he said. “I hate second-guessing people.”

I agree with this. I hate second guessing and monday-morning quarterbacking, but I also agree with Nick that using the objective information available and learning from the outcomes is very important. If nothing else this has made me reevaulate and examine my decision making process.

It's just sad. I got to know Chris while working on the Tram project at JHMR. He was a talented and genuine individual.


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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:42 pm 
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At the risk of being ridiculed i'm going to ask some stupid questions, please bear in mind that i'm in Europe and not familiar with the details of your regions.

How and why are the avalanche bulletins different per region. Wouldn't it make more sense to make a system more or less the same for the whole country?

Can you post an example of what you feel is a perfect forecast, and a less perfect one?

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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:55 am 
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dln, I agree that the Bridger-Teton AC is a great resource and has links to even greater resources within its main site. I guess my main point is that their daily advisory could be vastly improved. The daily advisory is super important... it's as far as most backcountry skiers ever go to get a picture of hazardous conditions. I think skiers/riders like you and me, who use the weather stations, event maps, snowpit observations etc... are definitely the minority. Thus, many others can be reached by having a more detailed daily advisory with photos, videos, and a more nuanced discussion of specific problems. It really wouldn't take that much more work IMO, unless they're truly running a skeleton crew at the BTNF.

At the bottom I posted a link to the Gallatin AC's daily for a reference.

ieism wrote:
At the risk of being ridiculed i'm going to ask some stupid questions, please bear in mind that i'm in Europe and not familiar with the details of your regions.

Likewise, I'm not familiar with European avalanche forecasting and how it differs from region to region.

ieism wrote:
How and why are the avalanche bulletins different per region. Wouldn't it make more sense to make a system more or less the same for the whole country?

It has to do with many of the avalanche centers in this area (MT and WY) being managed by their respective Forest Services (Gallatin in SWMT and Bridger-Teton in WY). It has both strengths and weaknesses compared to a countrywide model like Canada or even a statewide like UT.

ieism wrote:
Can you post an example of what you feel is a perfect forecast, and a less perfect one?

Good one: http://mtavalanche.com/current
Less perfect: http://jhavalanche.org/viewTeton

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 Post subject: Re: The Numbers Game
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:14 am 
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IMO avalanche forecasts can only be relied upon for the most generalized view of the actual avalanche conditions in any one location, and should not be the only, or even a primary, source of information for which to base route selection decisions on.
An avalanche forecast is very generalized to service a large area, but the actual risk of triggering a slide varies greatly by exact location, terrain features, and many other elements. Because of these factors, there is no such thing as a "perfect" forecast, and heavy reliance on the forecasts available can both lead to false sense of security, or, a false sense of avy danger.
We each must continue to educate ourselves through our own field experiences and observations. And we must make our own evaluations of specific slopes we would like to ride, based on the factors which are affecting the specific slope/location in question. We should only use the forecast to get a very general idea of the average prevailing conditions over a wide area, and not as an indication of the precise avy risk of a specific slope/line.

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