A couple close calls over the weekend have forced backcountry skiers to recall an early season skiing truism we often forget– ‘if there’s enough snow to ride, there’s enough snow to slide.’ Two skier-triggered slides, one near Mt Rose Ski Tahoe and one in the Kanaskis region of Canada, resulted in multiple injuries and both groups should feel extremely lucky today. One very important lesson can be extracted from both. RESPECT THE WIND
Mt Rose Avalanche – Hourglass bowl:
Three skiers were caught in ‘Hourglass Bowl’ just outside the Mt Rose Ski Area on Thursday morning reports The Sierra Avalanche Center. Of those three, one sustained a broken ankle while the others were able to leave the scene with minor injuries.
- Type – Dry Slab
- Crown – 2′
- Avalanche Width – 100′
- Avalanche Length – 600′
- Bed Surface – Old Snow
- Slope – 35°
- Aspect – NE
Sierra Avalanche Center Report:
We dug a pit on a slightly different aspect at direct north to find a 75-85cm snowpack. Our test results revealed a ct4 sc at 10cm/75cm and a ct12 sc at 14cm/85cm and failing on 1-2mm facets close to the ground. As we stepped around the corner we found an r2d2 avalanche with a large 2-2.5ft crown about 100ft wide through the left side of the chute running though a small gulley into the trees below. The crown also ran 100ft down the left flank about 1.5-2ft in depth. Failure layer was 2mm basal facets similar to those seen in the snowpit. It is unknown what triggered it as we noticed it about halfway down the path. The debris was 3-4 feet deep. We estimated the time of the avalanche based on the new snow on the debris to be sometime between 10-11am. We traversed over and did a quick beacon search on the path with no signals. No other avalanches noted. Sorry I have no pictures. I forgot my phone in the car.
“I spoke with one of the party of 4 or 5 that were involved in the slide on my skin up. Three people ( I believe) were caught in it, two of which were slammed into trees/rocks but were ok. Another skier with a possible broken ankle. A couple lost skis as well. Maybe one of the involved skiers can give an accurate account of what happened…..”
Find the entire report here: Size 2 avalanche in the hourglass
Kanaskis Country – Highwood Pass Avalanche:
An avalanche in Kanaskis Country hit a group of three skiers on Saturday while they were ascending Arethusa Cirque in the Highwood Pass region. The slide injured one of the skiers and partially buried another reports CBC News.
The injured person was fully buried and ultimately required a rescue effort. The injured man suffered serious injury but is expected to make a full recovery. They all had proper avalanche equipment at the time of the slide.
Incident Summary [Avalanche Canada]:
Rescue crews responded to a serious avalanche involvement yesterday on Mt Arethusa. A party of 3 triggered a size 2.0 slab avalanche in steep Alpine terrain on a S aspect. This slide partially buried one person and fully buried another as the group boot-packed up a gully. The fully buried subject was successfully extricated by his companions, but suffered numerous serious traumatic injuries. Check out KCPS Facebook for photos.
Find the enitre CBC News article here: Man airlifted to hospital after Kananaskis avalanche