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Tagged ‘avalanche‘

American Avalanche Review – NSAW Update

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 9.31.52 AMThis year I was honored to be invited to the Northwest Snow and Avalanche Workshop as a guest of the organizer, Michael Jackson. He saw my write-up from last year and and agreed that sharing the conference in writing could only spread its impact, so I returned this year caffeinated and with notebook in hand.

Avalanche conferences are a great way to get your head back in the game at the start of the season and to get a window into the thinking of some of the best in the game. This year was as absorbing and entertaining as last, and I’m happy to say that the quarterly publication of the American Avalanche Association, the Avalanche Review, is running my write-up in their February issue. It’s pretty cool to be just pages away from the likes of Drew Hardesty and Doug Chabot.

Below are a couple of excerpts from the article, and you can read it in its entirety Here. Read on →

Winter Returns: Skiing Considerable Danger

This weekend heralded a true return of snow to the Pacific Northwest, and with a less-typical SW flow, the Mt Hood area received more snow than the more-Northerly cascades. With an avalanche class lined up for Sunday, but a clear schedule on Saturday, I was eager to sneak out and see if we could nibble some powder. Taylor, my usual compadre, was also free, and we found room in our car for Angie, my longtime friend and recent splitboard convert.

Taylor enjoys the change of scenery

Taylor enjoys the change of scenery

Read on →

Northwest Snow and Avalanche Workshop 2013

Yesterday, as you might have noticed, I had the opportunity to attend the Northwest Snow and Avalanche workshop. Similar workshops occur on an annual basis around the Mountain West, and they’re a great way to get you avalanche brain back on track at the beginning of the season. While many of the talks assume that you have some avalanche education, in my experience, you’ll benefit from attending even if you are only Avy I certified. Half of staying alive out there is keeping your brain on the right wavelength, and listening to the approaches of the best risk managers in the business can help take you there.

AIARE Program Director Ben Pritchett

Below, you’ll find my notes on each of the talks, with some subjective thoughts afterwards. I’m interested to field any questions or discuss any of these topics in the comments below. Hopefully, you find this as interesting as I do… the snow is falling after all! Read on →

They Just Keep Dying: Why ‘Experienced’ Riders are Dying in Predictable Avalanche Accidents, and What We Can Do About It.

At about 10:15 in the morning on April 20th, 2013, five snowboarders and one skier met in the parking lot of the Loveland Pass ski area for a backcountry tour up the Sheep Creek drainage   They  were participants in the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Gathering, an event organized to promote backcountry snowboarding and avalanche safety. The participants discussed the plans for the day and began to skin up an old summer road towards low-angle terrain at the other end of the drainage.

Within minutes, having skinned only a few hundred yards, all six members of the party were buried by a slab avalanche measuring 800 x 600 feet, with an average depth of 5 feet, in some places 12 feet deep. One was buried to his neck and survived, trapped for four hours touching two of his buried friends but unable to move.  The other five perished, some buried 10-12 feet deep.

sheep creek avalanche

Sheep Creek Avalanche Site: The group entered the toe of the path from the right, within a few hundred yards of the parking lot. (Photo: CAIC)

Read on →