Taos Avalanche

Discussion in 'General Skiing' started by HDSkiing, Jan 17, 2019.

  1. pais alto

    pais alto me encanta el país alto Skier

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    First, a visual search, then a beacon, then a Recco and/or dog search when those resources arrive. Finally a probe line. It doesn’t take that long for a signal search and many patrollers have a beacon with them. It will take a while for a Recco device and/or dogs to respond. Recco searches are kind of slow and difficult compared to a beacon search.
     
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  2. ZionPow

    ZionPow Getting off the lift Skier

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    At the resort where I patrol, we would immediately form a hasty party and start a search with visual, beacons, RECCO, avy dogs and form probe lines. We can signal search a slide path in a matter of minutes. Every patroller at our resort is required to carry a beacon and be proficient at partner rescue. The beacon searcher would also look for visual clues during their search. Once the beacon searcher reaches the toe of the slide path they would organize a probe line and begin probing. Beacon searching is a good use of resources as it is a buried persons best chance of a rapid rescue. Avy dogs can search a large area much quicker than probe lines if the victim does not have a beacon. Sometimes it takes longer to get a dog in the slide path depending on the dog location at the time of the slide.
     
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  3. Brock Tice

    Brock Tice Getting off the lift Skier

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    Skiing was great today, just about everything but Kachina was eventually opened. Chair 4 was delayed while patrol meticulously bombed and inspected Kachina (I listened on the radio). I expect it'll probably open back up tomorrow.
     
  4. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Interesting...
    I'm getting Google ads for this on the site. Screen Shot 2019-01-19 at 10.09.52 PM.png
     
  5. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    This was just posted on FB.
    [​IMG]

    Under the post, there is a lot of speculation about the cause of the avalanche.
    Mostly wondering about the Kachina chair making it too easy for access and changes in administration that is rushing to open areas of the mountain before patrol feels its ready.
    *all speculation*
     


  6. Jack skis

    Jack skis Ex 207cm VR17 Skier Skier

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    Sometimes finding fault seems tp be more important than correcting mistakes, improving operating practices, or making other procedural changes. There will be time for that after grieving for a life lost way too soon. As above RIP Matthew.
     
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  7. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    100%
    I like that the BRASS foundation was started and has likely saved a lot of lives after the tragic loss of Bryce and Ronnie.
     
  8. KingGrump

    KingGrump Most Interesting Man In The World Team Gathermeister

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    There are always plenty of Monday morning arm chair quarterbacking from afar after a significant event.
     
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  9. Brock Tice

    Brock Tice Getting off the lift Skier

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    I really hope this wasn't 4th floor overriding patrol concerns to get 12 open for the holiday weekend.
     
  10. Brock Tice

    Brock Tice Getting off the lift Skier

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    12 did not spin today, 4 opened very late. I heard patrol on the radio cutting more samples of snow.
     
  11. clong83

    clong83 Stauffenberg! Skier

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    Yeah, we got some very early snow, and from the pictures it looks like this one ran all the way to the ground/bottom layer. So until the investigation is complete, that would be my operating assumption. Persistent deep slab.

    I did the hike on Sunday, and that thought entered my mind. Not in a “I don’t think this is ready/safe to be open” kind of way so much as a “I think I’ll let other people ski that first just to make sure”. Not trying to toot my horn or claim to be some snow reading genius, I’m just pretty conservative on that terrain, even if it is patrolled. I Decided to go down through the trees to the skiers right from the top.

    I heard through the grape vine that the other skier is not expected to make it. Really tragic if true. My heart sincerely goes out to the families. Could have been any of us.
     
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  12. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    I would like to clarify my comment about the comments on FB. I was not trying to start the armchair quarterbacking here, but making a statement about speculation, and that people can't respect a post like the RIP image.
    I should have used the :nono:
     
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  13. raisingarizona

    raisingarizona Getting off the lift Skier

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  14. raisingarizona

    raisingarizona Getting off the lift Skier

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    If anything, the kachina chair helps make conditions safer with increased skier compaction and faster response times to accidents.
     
  15. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    So sad. :(
    From the article:
    On Facebook, Deb Bowers Borg (the decedent's grandmother) wrote: "Our grandson Corey Borg loved the mountains, no matter what season. The mountain took his life unexpected with an avalanche while skiing in New Mexico. I am so proud of this young man and the impact that he has left on so many lives. You will be missed here on earth but we will all see you later in our journey. Please keep his family in your prayers."
     
  16. sparty

    sparty Putting on skis Skier

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    That was my assumption as well. I generally feel like a bit of an asshat skiing with a beacon but without a shovel, probe, and first-aid kit ("I want you to dig my ass out if something unexpected happens, but I don't want to bother being prepared to help others"), but I have done it inbounds on days that seemed relatively low-risk. Or, to put it in Bridger terms, so little fresh snow that there was no line at Schlassman's. Hiking the ridge, I'd generally have my full kit with me, if for no other reason than wanting to throw my skis on my pack for the hike up. I do find the contrast with Big Sky's policy (beacon, shovel, probe & partner required) for their beacon-required terrain.

    For those who haven't had the opportunity to ski the Ridge or Schlasman's, it's almost entirely unmarked terrain, with enough cliff bands and other obstacles to put a premium on knowing where you're going. There are also enough skiers at BB who like to drop cliffs that blindly following tracks is ill-advised. Without the beacon requirement, I"m sure there would be more unwitting skiers and riders getting themselves into bad spots and needing assistance.

    I own a BCA Tracker 3 and a Pieps DSP Pro. I bought the latter so that I could make the former my loan-to-a-friend beacon, and it has now become my fiance's beacon. It's small and, IMO, nearly idiot-proof to use, which make it a pretty good "maybe I should just be wearing one" beacon. If you have an appropriate pants pocket with a retaining clip, it's damned easy to wear that way; it's also small enough not to be particularly bulky when worn on a harness.

    At the end of the day, my two cents is that wearing the beacon in-bounds mitigates a low-likelihood, high-impact risk with minimal cost to you (if anything, it makes it more likely that you'll actually use the batteries before needing to swap them on age). If you're comfortable wearing a pack, or if you want one anyhow for a layer, a snack, and some water, then adding in a shovel, probe, and first-aid kit again has minimal impact on you, while mitigating a high-impact risk. It also helps avoid the human-factors trap of "oh, well, I didn't carry it because I was planning on staying in-bounds, but then I ran into Joe, and he's got this cool idea about that line just outside the gates."

    Re: the notion that we may see in-bounds avalanches as skiers and snowboarders push areas to open more inherently risky terrain, there's probably some statistical truth to that (more exposure = more incidents, even if the risk stays the same), but I think it's probably worth considering in perspective, too: that Taos avalanche made national news precisely because of how rare it was. That doesn't help those directly affected, but it's important to consider when deciding what risk-mitigation activities are necessary for the future.
     
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  17. jmeb

    jmeb Stereotypical Front Range Weekend Warrior Skier

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  18. sparty

    sparty Putting on skis Skier

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    ...whoops, realized that wording wasn't ideal; just to clarify, the Tracker 3 makes a great "maybe I should be wearing one" beacon. The Pieps has better range and some more advanced features, but it's bulkier and a bit more complicated.

    Thank you.
     
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  19. Brock Tice

    Brock Tice Getting off the lift Skier

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    Inbounds I don't expect anyone but ski patrol to dig me out, and they have all that stuff, and that's part of why you pay to ski inbounds. I'm trying to sort this out myself now that I'm adding a beacon to my regular kit. Getting on the lift over and over with a backpack gets old, it's part of why I quit carrying a hydration pack most of the time. It would definitely be worse with a full backcountry loadout.
     
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  20. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    And then there's the guy at Abasin who got hanged by his backpack and then was rescued by a highly experienced slackliner who just happened to be there, and went down the cable. Otherwise, dead.
     

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