Forums Avy Discussion Forum Avalanche kills five snowboarders at Loveland Pass, CO
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  • #668084
    Ecobrad
    2068 Posts

    @chrishami wrote:

    ^
    Agreed, but there is something about Dawson’s blogging that just pisses me off. There is a lack of humility or something in his tone

    I agree! There’s plenty of time to learn from this accident and it doesn’t have to be before proper respects are given.

    The difference between him and the Pope is that the Pope is actually appointed by others. Lou’s just a self righteous ski bum trying to stay relevant thru blogging.

    I bet he wouldn’t be spouting off like a TGR grom trying to promote his blog if it was his kid that perished.

    #668089
    ieism
    298 Posts

    These reports in the media will always hurt, especially if some you know just passed away and you have to deal with all the nonsense. Been there.

    But the Wildsnow report, from my point of view, is mostly trying to educate in choosing a different route. The timing may be a bit odd and it’s all a bit weird, but there are some lessons there. How else are people going to learn from this?

    http://flatlandsplitfest.com/

    #668090
    Taylor
    797 Posts

    Dawson’s tone is undeniably arrogant and his inclusion of certain facts is needlessly disrespectful. Such careless presentation reflects poor judgment. It sabotages the laudable goal of preventing future tragedies by turning some readers off and casting skepticism to his judgment in other arenas–like lessons to be learned.

    The public instead deserves a careful, detailed and professional analysis of the events and mistakes made, especially as relates to route selection and remote triggering of deep slabs–one conducted by professionals who are also capable of communicating like professionals to the public.

    I’m proud of the splitboarding community’s reaction on this forum to such a horrible and haunting tragedy. Thoughts and prayers to the affected family and friends–including and especially you, Shredgnar.

    @sun_rocket

    #668091
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    Keffler and I attended a very nice memorial/get together for innerrevolution in Estes Park last night. There was a nice turnout of folks, and tons of good vibes shared in memory of our friend. It was really good to see a sampling of how many people will carry forth his enthusiasm, positive attitude, and encouragement of others.

    As for WildSnow, I am quite disappointed. It appears to me, perhaps, that there may be some residual skier/splitboarder superiority complex going on here: that is the only thing which I can possibly think of which would account for LD’s curious and disrespectful attitude; even in the case of the Tunnel Creek accident last year I do not recall LD being so “holier than thou.”

    #668092
    Taylor
    797 Posts

    @barrows wrote:

    It appears to me, perhaps, that there may be some residual skier/splitboarder superiority complex going on here: that is the only thing which I can possibly think of which would account for LD’s curious and disrespectful attitude…”

    Yeah, sadly that’s exactly the sense I get too, Barrows.

    @sun_rocket

    #668093
    UTAH
    830 Posts

    I didn’t care for that write up. He simply states the obvious, in an arrogant way as already stated. Of course were going to learn from their mistake, that’s the hard part.

    #668076
    boardgeezer
    11 Posts

    A very good, new article from the Denver Post, with observations relating to pack mentality. Megan Michelson, who was at the Tunnel Creek avalanche at Stevens Pass last year, weighs in with some comments, too.

    http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_23124011/pack-mentality-trump-experience-safety-avalanche

    BG

    #668094
    karkis
    270 Posts

    thats a crushingly tragic event and my heart goes out to all affected.
    RIP fellow shredders.

    i think the comparisons to the Tunnel Creek avalanche avoid the fact that the two accidents don’t actually have that much in common.
    some people seem think the Loveland accident is same same, different time and place… that the lessons from last year weren’t applied this year.

    From what i read of the Tunnel Creek accident, a large group skiing in a maritime snow pack during a big storm cycle, it really did present some learning opportunities about how group dynamics can lead to blatant disregard of a clear hazard.

    From what i’ve read of this Loveland Pass accident, a group skiing in a continental snowpack with a basal weakness, who clearly were conscious of that hazard and were trying to minimise their exposure to it…. it seems to me that the issues of group dynamics, expertise and experience, and whatever else the choir at wildsnow is chirping off on, it’s all very much secondary to the point that these guys just underestimated the magnitude of the hazard and it’s sensitivity to triggering.

    thats a very simple mistake which most people make in various aspects of life, frequently. In the case of this accident, the low probability of the hazard would make it especially prone to underestimation, and the high consequence results made it especially tragic.
    It seems to me that the take home lessons from this tragedy don’t have so much to do with group dynamics, systemic shortcomings of avalanche education, expert qualifications, blah blah blah…..
    it’s simply that we need to increase our safety margins exponentially as the consequences get bigger.

    On a side note, which may or may not be relevant to this accident, but just speaking from experience, i’ve found that while touring on a snowboard, all 170 lbs of me, plus my gear, on a 161 cm stick, there is more pressure, weight per cm of edge, than my friends on skis (+/-180 cms) exert, and it’s not uncommon for me to be triggering failures even if a skier or 2 or 3 have put the track in ahead of me without affecting the weakness. just something to think about.

    never summer snowboards
    phantom splitboard bindings
    dynafit touring
    atomic boots

    #668095
    acopafeel
    134 Posts

    karkis:

    it’s all very much secondary to the point that these guys just underestimated the magnitude of the hazard and it’s sensitivity to triggering.

    thats a very simple mistake which most people make in various aspects of life, frequently. In the case of this accident, the low probability of the hazard would make it especially prone to underestimation, and the high consequence results made it especially tragic.
    It seems to me that the take home lessons from this tragedy don’t have so much to do with group dynamics, systemic shortcomings of avalanche education, expert qualifications, blah blah blah…..
    it’s simply that we need to increase our safety margins exponentially as the consequences get bigger.

    this is excellent!!

    #668096
    UPGRAYEDD_2505
    127 Posts

    Good stuff, karkis. Well said.

    #668097
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    Mark (karkis). Right on, I could not agree more. No matter what we do though, these accidents will be seen as similar in the view of the general public, as they both involved experienced riders, and they resulted in multiple fatalities (hence large interest from national media, who tend to not understand the slightest thing about BC riding, despite the excellent NYT article on the Tunnel Creek incident).
    The post incident analysis from Tunnel Creek pointed directly at the group dynamic as being most responsible for that accident. I do not think we have enough distance and information to really determine what mistake(s) may have been made in the Sheep Creek accident, I have my own ideas, but it is too early for me to really share them in public. I do not think the group dynamic was nearly as big a factor though, if at all.

    #668098
    buell
    534 Posts

    Karkis and Barrows, you guys are awesome and I really respect your opinions.

    Unfortunately, we cannot know either way but I want to make sure that we are not overly discounting group dynamics in this case. I think saying group dynamics played little to no role in this accident is just as bad as saying group dynamics was the ultimate cause of this accident.

    Having been the victim of heuristics in a group on more than one occasion, I find it hard to believe that a least one to multiple people in that group did not have unexpressed doubts about the terrain they were traversing. If not that, then they were assuming that others were making solid decisions for them so they did not need to pay so much attention to the terrain.

    Also, it does not sound like what I would call the low probability, high consequence day of a buried but mostly dormant weak layer. It seems like there were enough slides in the preceding days om the area to say that there was a moderate to high probability of setting off a slide traversing under an avy slope.

    #668099
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    @buell wrote:

    Karkis and Barrows, you guys are awesome and I really respect your opinions.

    Unfortunately, we cannot know either way but I want to make sure that we are not overly discounting group dynamics in this case. I think saying group dynamics played little to no role in this accident is just as bad as saying group dynamics was the ultimate cause of this accident.

    Having been the victim of heuristics in a group on more than one occasion, I find it hard to believe that a least one to multiple people in that group did not have unexpressed doubts about the terrain they were traversing. If not that, then they were assuming that others were making solid decisions for them so they did not need to pay so much attention to the terrain.

    Also, it does not sound like what I would call the low probability, high consequence day of a buried but mostly dormant weak layer. It seems like there were enough slides in the preceding days om the area to say that there was a moderate to high probability of setting off a slide traversing under an avy slope.

    Buell, we cannot know as you say. But hearing how they approached the terrain in question, it is pretty clear to me that they were aware of the danger, and had agreed to expose only one a time to that danger (they thought). I was contrasting this event to Tunnel Creek, where it is clear to me that the group dynamic was (almost) entirely responsible for the accident.
    While with hindsight, and from a considerable distance, it might appear that this deep instability was well known to be producing big avalanches wherever it existed, as someone who lives in Colorado, I can honestly say that this was not the case. Indeed, triggering a HS release on this layer was a very, very rare possibility. This was not a case where every slope around with these characteristics was releasing: it is totally accurate to term this as a low probability, and high consequence event. This weak layer was present over a huge area of Colorado, for a long period of time, and only a few slides were triggered on it. Even control work would more often than not produce no results. The CAIC did warn about this possibility, but they too called it a low probability, high consequence situation.
    With hindsight, it is clear that this specific slope, at this specific spot, was ready to move; but, honestly, I do not think this was clear at all, from the previous few days of activity, from the reporting of the CAIC, or from my experiences in the backcountry over the course of this winter.

    #668100
    shasta
    143 Posts

    Tragic and sad indeed.

    Thought the wildsnow blog was right on in terms of clinically discussing the issue and potential mistakes that led to the tragedy. The timing was right on as this is iron that will not shape unless its hot.

    My perspective on this is affected by the fact I was taken out in a slide this winter locally and luckily did not get seriously hurt based on the relatively small slide (150′ x 1000′) and fact I was able to punch the sliding surface which caused the slide to leave me behind. One of my boards went off cliff bands, the other was buried and recovered the next week using metal detectors, coulda been me!

    I broke many of the same rules the Loveland group did. We dug pits and avioded terrain we identified as suspect. Based on group mentality and deference to a guy who knew the area better than all we followed into the suspect terrain. 3 of us were spread out by about 50′ (way too close to avoid anything but a slough) when the slope ripped. I was last and took it on the nose: one guy went 50′, one guy 100′ and I, 700′.

    I had second thoughts I rejected when I traversed from absolute safety onto a slab I intended to aviod when we started the day (end of epic pow day, one last chute to get and they’re all ahead and leader knows the terrain better than I). The one group member that was done climbing and in a safe zone couldn’t see us from his vantage.

    Swimming is a bullshit option when your in the dark tumbling down the hill at mach speed, by the way.

    The point of this is the Wildsnow blog might have hurt some who didn’t want a clinical so soon after the event but that is the time when the iron is hot and the analysis has the most impact in my opinion. I’ve read all the books but none of the horror stories hit home until it was personal and analysis was immediate cause I couldn’t stop thinking about the day.

    Again, condolences to those involved and their families.

    #668101
    karkis
    270 Posts

    sorry but i gotta argue the opposing position, that guy, again…

    @shasta wrote:

    My perspective on this is affected by the fact I was taken out in a slide this winter…
    I broke many of the same rules the Loveland group did.

    @buell wrote:

    Having been the victim of heuristics in a group on more than one occasion

    i gotta point out that altho imagination and creativity are considered virtues of human nature, their prevalence is generally overstated. Most of us tend to project our own experiences on the world around us, while being more or less blind to the nature and potential of reality.
    Not to pick on you two, its every one of us, your experiences were, i expect, interesting and educational, and i’m glad for you both that you lived to learn. but it doesn’t mean they made the same mistake you did.

    you’re totally right Buell that we don’t know the part group dynamics played in that accident, but to a large extent it really doesn’t matter. It’s been mentioned that the Tunnel Creek accident last year was a very clear demonstration of group dynamics playing a huge role in creating a tragedy. It may have played a part at Loveland too, or not. To me, the one thing that was very much remarkable about this event is that a pretty frickin huge avalanche (think of the structural strength of 6′ of settled snow) was triggered from low angle terrain (10deg), 600′ vert (directly, thats around 1600′ or 4.5 football fields) away from the start zone. Thats mind boggling.

    yah ok maybe someone had some doubts or fears about their exposure. Maybe. or maybe they all thought they were
    @russman wrote:

    choosing the most mellow approach, to the most mellow terrain

    i think what bugs me enough that im coming back to make this point, with all the beakin’ on wildsnow about heuristics and alpha angles and how other similar? slopes that failed (more or less) recently (more or less) nearby, and whatever else, blah blah blah, mostly irrelevant, and otherwise looking for something to point a finger at, is that they are all avoiding a good hard look at the blatantly obvious – shit happens.
    and im not saying that the whole fault of the accident can be attributed to shit, gad, bad luck or whatever, but to me its much more remarkable that an extraordinary event took these brothers out, compared to the squibbling on wildsnow that… they shoulda…. someone mighta…. blah blah…..

    they could well have figured they’d done their homework and were golden, who knows.
    everyone goes out on days like that, thinking we gots the best possible plans…. and we all can be wrong no matter how right we think we are.
    and sometimes we could be totally in the right, and shit mite happen anyways.
    that’s the chance we all take being alive.

    never summer snowboards
    phantom splitboard bindings
    dynafit touring
    atomic boots

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