Skiers Outrun Avalanche @ Smuggler's Notch, Vermont

Skiers Outrun Avalanche @ Smuggler's Notch, Vermont


Skiers Outrun Avalanche @ Smuggler's Notch, Vermont

Here’s a look from across the valley at the line we skied yesterday. We triggered a large slide, where the arrow is pointing and the debris piled up 1300’ below, where the circle is. See yesterday’s post for more info. Anyone who knows about avalanche hazard would look at this and tell you it’s avalanche terrain. So why were we so unprepared yesterday? Well mitigating human factors is significantly harder than mitigating unstable snow. Unfortunately yesterday we fell into many heuristic traps and were lucky to come out unscathed. Additionally, thanks to those who have spoken up and supported us in talking openly about this incident. I’m a firm believer that the best way to learn is from other people’s mistakes. If you discount someone else as stupid for triggering a slide or getting caught in a slide then the logical conclusion is, “they are stupid, I’m not stupid, therefore I won’t get caught in a slide.” A better response might be, “what mistake did they make and how can I learn from it?” From what I’ve seen, I believe that most people in the backcountry community are introspective and respond well to people being vulnerable and sharing their story. That being said, I still appreciate people responding to the few bad apples and explaining how mistakes are made, thank you! #skitheeast #vtavalanche @ortovox #voiceofthemountains @julboeyewearna #mountainvision @thesportloft #getbooted @dynafit #skiuphill @dpsskis #DPSAmbassador #Tour1 #wailer106 @dissentlabs #criticalcomfort #snowbrains #bcski #vtbc #earnyourturns #smugglersnotch #skivt

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“Two of us were looking straight down the whole chute, which is almost 1,200 or 1,300-feet long. And we just saw the avalanche gain speed and a huge powder cloud form. So it was going.”

Two Vermont backcountry skiers were nearly buried by an avalanche Sunday on Mount Mansfield. WCAX did some excellent reporting on the incident but their video wont embed so PLEASE WATCH HERE.

Here’s how it went down from the perspective of Aaron Rice and Cyril Brunner:

“On his second turn the whole thing kind of fractured” -Rice
“When I turned around I could see that the whole slope had just gone behind me, and all I saw was my friends who are just staring at me and staring at the slope go down.” -Brunner 
“Two of us were looking straight down the whole chute, which is almost 1,200 or 1,300-feet long. And we just saw the avalanche gain speed and a huge powder cloud form. So it was going.” -Rice 
“I flipped from this relaxed East Coast mode to like, oh, this is avalanche terrain, like we have to get out of here now.” -Rice

….the pair had a ton of experience in the area and were able to side step the avalanche path before it hit.

“I would have probably been thrown through some trees. I would have certainly gone over a hundred-foot waterfall and been buried in a significant amount of snow and I wouldn’t be here today.” -Brunner

Stowe Mountain Rescue’s Doug Veliko reminds us that avalanches do happen in Vermont and says the current snowpack is unconsolidated.  Please stay safe out there Vermont backcountry skiers, avalanche can and do happen. 

Made the mistake of forgetting that avalanches can and do occur in Vermont. Today we triggered a 1-2’ thick slab that propagated across the chute we were dropping into. It proceeded to gain speed and energy through a few chokes as it pulled out more pockets and gouged deeper into old snow. It ran for 1300 vertical feet with an impressive powder cloud before pilling up 4-6’ deep in a large debris pile about 150 feet short of crossing rt. 108. (R3, D2) Many mistakes were made that led us to the top of the chute without any avy gear and without fully considering possible risks and consequences. I am super grateful that nobody was hurt from our group, that there were no other groups in the area that could have been hit, and that we were able to get a serious wake up call without injury. Looking back, had I been more aware of the avalanche hazard, I would have rated the day at high danger dropping to considerable through the afternoon. I skinned up the debris field just now and there were numerous natural slide debris piles in nearly every slide path in the Notch. Having taken the lift up in the morning we completely missed these obvious signs. #smugglersnotch #avalanche #avalanchevt #stoweavalanchecenter #sac #notathing #shouldbeathing #skitheeast #bcvt #skivermont

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