Forums Avy Discussion Forum echo peak avalanche
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    29 Posts

    my sister sent this to me, a lot bad things done here luckily it seems things turned out alright..

    what your guys thoughts

    p.s. cant figure out how to embed this instead of just posting the link…..

    edit… figured it out

    758 Posts

    He sure knows how to work his Go-Pro… but not his shovel!
    “Give me your beacon, its OK take your time…”
    She is wearing avy gear, and he has none!
    :25 skier comes to rest buried
    2:51 Go-Pro guy arrives and the skier
    3 people and 1 shovel with no handle
    If he had been completely buried I think he would be dead.
    No panic which is good, but no urgency which is very bad.
    I hope my partners would do better for me.

    Happy New Year everyone and stay safe out there!

    29 Posts

    from a report i found, apparently for 5 people…they only had two sets of rescue gear, and the skier that got buried had one set with him… 2 shovels, 2 probes, 2 beacons.. for 5 people…. this was some really poor judgment, and they were not familiar with the setup.

    i think its mid video somewhere you can hear the buried skier tell the two guys where the handle is for the shovel…. all in all this guy was lucky

    1114 Posts

    That was painful to watch. :nononno:



    What a terrible experience for everyone.

    174 Posts

    So important to make sure everyone is educated and has the proper equipment. Not many people would be as lucky as this guy.

    498 Posts

    I see that we have covered some of the bad points in this rescue, as pointed out by Pedro and others.

    So let me focus on a seemly minor issue, which is really a major issue any time your in the Backcountry! There is an old mountaineering axiom: “Freeze you feet you can still walk out. Freeze your hands you can die.

    The guy ditches his Black Diamond gloves (BD), which waste valuable time in the rescue. Always keep your gloves with you. Your now good to yourself or your group if your hands are frozen. Note all BD gloves shown in this video come with a tethers. Use the tethers”and keep your gloves with you always.

    Ironically I have seen where several people put down their gloves during Avalanche Rescue practice on several Avalanche courses.

    1114 Posts

    So much fail in this vid. How about when they try to pull him out of the hole with a ski pole? Or the part where the guy is digging himself out while the “rescuer” warms his hands after taking off his second pair of gloves?

    29 Posts

    i guess this video got so many people worked up it was taken down off the facebook page it was posted on…

    it really was just a terrible job. i can understand why the woman gave up the beacon, she should have instantly pulled it out, and at least start working her way down (safely) and everyone else should have started a visual search.. but even by the time he receives the beacon, one guy points out that he can see his hand waving in the snow….

    29 Posts

    i guess this video got so many people worked up it was taken down off the facebook page it was posted on…

    it really was just a terrible job. i can understand why the woman gave up the beacon, she should have instantly pulled it out, and at least start working her way down (safely) and everyone else should have started a visual search.. but even by the time he receives the beacon, one guy points out that he can see his hand waving in the snow….

    54 Posts

    There is a bunch to watch and learn from the vid, including the bad points and the good points of the rescue. After all, they did make it out alive that day.

    298 Posts

    Good point. There are a few things they are doing right, but that may be just luck.

    The only postive is that the gopro guy stays calm and takes charge, you have to assume he’s the most experieced of the group with the beacon. But unfortunately he’s so calm it lacks any urgency at all.
    They watch the guy in the slide and keep eyes on him.
    And that they skied the slope one at a time, and were waiting at a safespot?

    If you are this unprepared you should really consider not going at all as it is quite dangerous. Be fair about your own skills and limits, it could safe your life or someone elses.

    edit: I’m not familiar with your inbounds/backcountry system, we don’t have gates in Europe so anything outside of groomed runs is avy terrain to me. So if this is inbounds and it’s normal for you to go out without beacon/probe/shovel there I might be missing the point.

    34 Posts

    I really have to question the appropriateness of the go-pro dude taking leadership of the group. The guy in the black jacket was calm and effective but had more clarity and more urgency about the situation. If anything I think this displays the human issue of the expert halo. While the “expert” was messing with gear another member of the group had assessed the situation and come to a much quicker/more effective solution. He also didn’t toss his gloves to the side, and wasn’t suggesting ideas that weren’t working. Even when mr go-pros hands started to freeze and not function correctly he still kept black jacket out of the rescue site further asserting is undeserved dominance in the situation. Anyone can shovel, and it’s totally appropriate to rotate the task to keep everyone functioning at a high level. This is far from the worse fail in the vid, just something else to think about.

    1 Posts

    I know that our party, the party involved in the December 29th incident on Echo Peak, made numerous mistakes. I chose to make the helmet cam video available to Sierra Avalanche Center so that others could learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. As the leader of the party, I take full credit for all of the mistakes and want to document what I’ve learned from them.

    The first mistake was taking an inexperienced, ill-equipped group into the backcountry. Every member of the party should have been carrying a beacon, probe, and shovel. Additionally every member of the party should have been trained in avalanche safety. We only had two complete kits among our party of five, carried by the female skier in the video and by me, the skier who was caught in the slide. The other three members of the party were complete novices in the backcountry, able to ski black diamonds at a resort, but with no experience out of bounds. As the party leader, I should never have taken the group up Echo Peak, but I let the party’s excitement about the day sway my decision. I made a bad decision.

    The second mistake I made was allowing the excitement in the group to override sound decision making. Two of the inexperienced members of the party had never summited Echo. Safety and snow pack conditions dictated turning the group around at tree line and descending the ridge crest. However, I let emotion make the decision and allowed the party to continue above tree line to the summit. This decision required descending the slope directly above the ridge terminus. A slope that I knew was prone to sliding under the right circumstances, and having kept abreast of conditions, I knew conditions were conducive to an an avalanche. Again, I made a bad decision.

    We skied one at a time from the crest to a safe zone in the trees at the start of the ridge proper, but I made my third mistake by choosing to ski a line slightly skier’s left of the safest line to the meeting point in the trees. The female skier in the group asked that I not ski that line, but I let my emotions once again get the better of me. The several turns in untracked snow on a 45 degree slope were just too tempting. My intentions were to ski to skier’s left of the large rocks where the slide released from, then veer hard to skier’s right and meet the party on the ridge. I knew that the slope was convex. I knew that there was a rock band below my intended route. My thoughts were, “I’ve skied this line before. It’s only a few turns.” I made a very bad decision. Fortunately I have been able to kick myself repeatedly for it.

    Once the slope let go, I was helpless. Everything I’d ever heard, read, or talked about went through my mind. Stay on top. Get your feet downhill. Backstroke. Remember to create an air pocket when the slide slows. Punch a hand towards the sky. The truth is that I was at the mercy of the snow. I went over the rock step head first on my back. Fortunately, I didn’t crater on impact and end up buried by the rest of the snow as it came over the edge. Instead, I was rag dolled out of my crater and ended up somehow close to the surface. I was able to punch one fist upward as the slide slowed, but otherwise was completely unable to move. Everything was black and the urge to panic was overwhelming. After repeatedly telling myself to calm down, I was able to clear an airway with my free hand. Then all I could do was wait. I was very lucky.

    Much has been made on various forums about the way that the skier with the helmet cam handled the rescue. He has been flamed for taking his gloves off, for telling the female skier with the beacon to take her time in transitioning the gear to him, for not putting the handle in the shovel, ad infinitum. The truth is, I am proud of the way he, a novice at avalanche rescue, handled the situation. He knew that the female skier was panicking and had to keep her calm. He knew that the whole party shouldn’t descend to the burial site. He left two people on the ridge to watch the hangfire. Then he descended to the burial site with a partner, one at a time, in a controlled manner. In debriefing after the incident, we discussed what he could have done differently. It goes without saying that he should have left his gloves on. Other than that, there are two possible scenarios. First scenario:Once the skier in the black jacket had located my glove above the debris, the one unburied probe and beacon should have been left on the ridge. That way a beacon/probe search could have been initiated in the case of a secondary avalanche burying the rescue party. Second scenario: My glove was located above the debris, but what if my hand wasn’t in it? Seen from 100 meters away, it was impossible to tell. If the beacon and probe were left on the ridge, that would have led to additional delays in getting the rescue gear to the burial and would have put one more skier in the path of a secondary release. As for the unassembled shovel, I have to take credit for that mistake. I should have made sure that the entire party knew where the rescue gear was located and how to assemble it before ever leaving the trailhead. Finally, my rescuer didn’t relinquish shoveling duties to his partner once his hands started to freeze. He could have either taken the time to get gloves on his wet hands, or asked the skier in the black jacket to continue digging while he warmed his hands.

    I’m sure that there are many more lessons to learn from this incident. That is the reason that I chose to let Sierra Avalanche Center make the video public. My hope was that I would receive constructive criticism and maybe force other people to review their decisions and the process by which they make those decisions. I knew that we would be flamed for our mistakes, but I’ll take the flames if my mistakes will help keep others safe. My hope also is that all of the flaming does not discourage others from making public their mistakes, so that we, the backcountry community, can learn from each other. We all make mistakes, some of us more than others, I am sure, but we all make mistakes. I’ve watched countless avalanche videos and thought, “What an idiot!” “Why’d the dude do that?” or “That guy is completely clueless.” Guess this time I’m the idiot and the clueless one. Hopefully, because I chose to share this video, you won’t be the clueless one if or when things go wrong.

    820 Posts

    Thanks Anon. Puts in perspective what a guide does every day with enthusiastic guests. Glad you made it out safe.

    830 Posts

    Right on anon, much respect.

    1114 Posts

    Sorry for sounding harsh. obviously mistakes were made, sounds like your party learned from them! Kudos for posting.

    34 Posts

    Thanks for sharing. Glad you’re alright, learning and humble about the situation.

    54 Posts

    Annon, thanks for the post and the willingness of your crew to share your video and ordeal. We all can learn from the correct actions and wrong ones. Personally I have been in a similar situations and it is hard to humble yourself so others can learn from your mistakes. But with that said, there are definately positives to take from your vid. Glad to see you all went home safe that day.

    643 Posts

    Anon, thanks for posting. It’s very good for people to look back and learn from their mistakes and from the mistakes of others. Anyone sitting at a computer can say what they would do, but without being there, noone knows what they would do. People panic and make bad decisions all the time in emergency situations, just like people get excited at the top of a line and make bad decisions.

    Personally, it’s painful to hear people critiscising the actions of one person in a rescue for this exact reason. I bet that if you put a GoPro on the best guide in the biz, you’d be able to sit at your computer all day long and MMQB his actions, but without being there in the moment, you will never know what you would do.

    Books are one thing, practice is another, and the real thing is a whole different ball game.

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