Sunday, December 16, 2012

Vail: Avalanche Part of the “Inherent Dangers and Risks of Skiing”

Better wear your beacon at Vail!

Or so their corporate lawyers claim:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/116979089/2012-09-20-Defendants-Motion-to-Dismiss-for-Failure-to-State-a-Cla

Then again, the judge didn't buy their argument ...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cornice Drop Video

As the saying goes, cornices tend to break back further than you think.
This video is a classic example of that.
Just be sure to turn off the sound if at work, though definitely save the sound for later at home, since it's quite entertaining.  As one commenter suggested, "close your eyes.... it sounds like a low-budget porn."
Even better, at one point the female videographer chastises her boyfriend with "Don't swear - it's videoing."
But then once the cornice finally drops...


Monday, November 5, 2012

Official Report for First U.S. Avy Incident of the Season

Following up on the first U.S. avalanche incident of the season, here's the official report:
http://www.mtavalanche.com/sites/default/files/Northern%20Bridger%20Avalanche%20Oct%202012.pdf

Note in particular the lack of spacing apart of the party members, the lack of communication among the unfamiliar party members, the unsecured helmet, the nonreleaseable bindings, and the failed Avalung deployment.

The report says very little about the party members' stability assessment, with hints that the snowpack clues might have been deceptive.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Andes Avy Incident Article


The Fingers 620x411

White Darkness: Surviving an Avalanche in the Andes

by: Grant Gary
Welcome to your worst nightmare.  You’re tumbling down the side of a mountain inside a wave of snow.  You feel like you’re in the ocean except this water is cold and crystallized.  As you somersault over and over again, all you can see through your goggles is an eerie white darkness.  As your arms flail, you reach for your avalanche airbag.  One pull, two pulls, nothing happens. Every time you try to take a breath, it feels like someone is taking a pile of snow and shoving it with all their strength into the very back of your throat. You are choking to death.  But this is no nightmare.  This is your life, and you are about to die.
Traveling through Chile I had begun to feel like I was invincible.  After several weeks of coincidence after coincidence I felt like the luckiest man on the planet.  I had hung out with the Brazilian National Snowboarding team, successfully hitchhiked dozens of times, received an offer for a free helicopter ride from a local businessman, scored free lift tickets, cheap lodging, fooled around with beautiful Chilean women and had a couple of articles published by Unofficial Networks.  Could life get any better?  Yes it could, with 18 inches of fresh Chilean Powder!
Two days after the storm my Swiss friend, two Frenchmen and myself decided to climb up a Volcano that sits atop the ski area Nevados de Chillan.  The lift rises to about 7500 feet in elevation and then it’s possible to skin or hike another 3000 vertical feet to the top.  It was one of my first times in the backcountry.  I had all the gear.  Beacon. Check. Shovel. Check. Probe. Check. Airbag. Check.  Education. NADA! (That’s Spanish for none).  So I did what all non-educated gringos do, I put my trust in another person who I barely knew but apparently had lots of experience in the mountains.   Mistake number 1.
The anticipated 3 or 4-hour hike actually took 5.  The skin track was icy and at one point I had to take off my skis and bootpack.  I never told anyone but I actually fell into a small crevasse while hiking that was about 3 feet deep.   It was scary but I wasn’t going to let a little slip deter me.  A few hundred feet from the summit the wind began to blow over 50mph.  At that point nothing could stop me short of death itself.  When I reached the summit only one other person from our four-man party had made it.  We talked briefly and it was clear that I was beyond exhausted.  I hadn’t packed any food, expecting the hike to take only three hours.  Mistake number two.  I was woozy and cold and it took my friends wits to tell me to put all my layers back on before I froze to death.
After layering up I looked out and saw the most spectacular sight I have seen in my 28 years on this planet.  We were sitting inside the cone of a Volcano and over the edge I could see the spine of the Andes Mountains stretching as far as the eye could see.  There is a saying in Haiti “Beyond those Mountains, there are more Mountains”.  Never has that saying rang more true for me than during that moment.  There were mountains beyond mountains all the way to the horizon.
Happy To Be Alive and on Morphine 620x933
After snapping a couple of photos we began our descent.  In proper backcountry style my partner and I determined safe areas and skied one at a time.   1000 vertical feet below the summit, skiing started to get fun!  We were cutting completely fresh tacks on wide-open slopes loaded with 1-2 feet of fresh Chilean Powder.  It was complete bliss.
After skiing another 2500 vertical feet we stopped for a chat.  We had two options; head back into the ski area or further out into the backcountry.  My partner asked if I would “like to ski a really steep part of the mountain”.   My brain was so depleted of glucose all I could muster was a foggy “yeah”.  So I followed my friend for a 20-minute traverse that brought us to an area in the backcountry known as “The Fingers”.  Similar to Squaw’s fingers but this is steeper and longer with fewer cliffs.
As we stood atop the 45-degree pitch it was two in the afternoon and the temperature was scorching hot. Mistake number 3. “Gringo, you go first.” My friend told me in broken English.  “If anything happen, go straight”.  Four turns later at 30 mph I fell forward and started sliding down the mountain headfirst.  It was a strange sensation since I hadn’t fallen like that in years.  When I came to a halt I looked over my left shoulder and caught a glimpse of the slide an instant before it slammed into me.
I wish I could say I did something great to survive the avalanche, but the reality is I was simply lucky.  When the snow stopped I was sitting on top, completely unburied and all I had was a broken leg.  The rest of the story is both heartwarming and harrowing; Three days and three hospitals before I was operated on, but dozens of people showing me incredible kindness along the way, including my American friend Lolo who spent 4 days with me so she could translate and help!
The question I hear most often these days is “are you going to go into the backcountry again?”  The answer is an emphatic “yes”, but with the caveat “after I’ve received the proper education”.  I made lots and lots of mistakes in the backcountry that almost led to my death.  However the biggest one I made was not having enough education to make my OWN decisions in the backcountry. Simply having the gear is not enough!  Even if you know how to use the gear that is not enough!  THE NUMBER ONE GOAL IN THE BACKCOUNTRY SHOULD BE TO AVOID TRIGGERING AN AVALANCHE!  We can only accomplish this through proper education and practice.
My friend was nearly in tears.  The ski patrollers looked at me like I was a ghost.  As I was sitting in a sled preparing to be lifted into an ambulance a ski patroller came over and looked down at me.  His eyes were kind.  He was backlit by the ethereal blue sky of a late Chilean winter day.  “You are very lucky to be alive…never forget that”.  I never will…

Monday, October 29, 2012

First U.S. Avy Incident of the Season

The first North American avalanche incident already occurred about a week ago, in British Columbia, and even claimed one life.  But it was essentially an industrial workplace incident, and while an avalanche is an avalanche, regardless of what the victim was doing at the time, I suspect that some of the human factor dynamics at play are different when the party is out to get a job done, versus ski some fun snow.

But now we have the first U.S. avy incident of the season, involving three skiers.
Being avalanched at any time of year is bad, but at the very beginning of the season ... well, let's just hope this at least scares everyone straight out there.

http://www.mtavalanche.com/node/1286/


Avalanche partially buries three skiers, injures one.


Three Skiers Partially Buried and One Injured in Bridger Range
On Sunday, October 28, three skiers were in the northern Bridger Range ascending a south facing slope immediately south of Frazier Basin when they triggered and avalanche.  All three were partially buried with one injured. The avalanche was triggered near the ridgeline as they were skinning uphill.  They felt the slope collapse with a “whumph” and saw the slope fracture above them which swept all three to the bottom, but not before beating them up on the rocky bed surface with one suffering a deep knee laceration and hip injury.  Luckily they were not completely buried in the slide.  The skiers were buried to their chest or armpits. At noon they called Gallatin County Search and Rescue to toboggan the injured skier out which was completed by 3:30 p.m.  This time of year the best skiing will be found on wind-loaded slopes where the snow is deepest. This accident reinforces the behavior of only traveling one at a time in avalanche terrain and carrying rescue gear.  Eric, Mark and I will head to the avalanche this morning to investigate the snowpack.  We will post more details in the next few days.



No Name Bowl Avalanche Path


No Name Bowl Avalanche Path

The avalanche broke near the ridgeline where it was windloaded.  The skiers felt the slope "whumph" and then watched cracks propagate above them before they were all swept downhill and partially buried. They got beat up on the rocks, which injured one, but there was also plenty of snow to completely bury them, which luckily did not happen.  Photo: GNFAC
Avalanche: No Name Bowl Overview
Avalanche: No Name Bowl Overview
Three skiers triggered and were caught in an avalanche in the northern Bridger Range as they skinned uphill.  They were all swept to the bottom getting beat up on rocks along the way.  The skiers were all partially buried.  One was injured and was evacuated by Gallatin County Search and Rescue.  Photo: GNFAC 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mike Marolt's Article on Manaslu


I think all this has already been stated by others, but here is a particularly strong version of it.

Opening paragraphs:
"I woke up on September 24 to something that I had long expected: a major disaster on Manaslu, the eighth-highest peak in the world. This particular one came in the form of an avalanche that killed at least 11 people and left dozens of others severely injured."
"I found myself on Manaslu a few years ago, and in my mind, and the minds of many who have climbed it, this tragedy was anything but a surprise. It was an act of God, but one that was manufactured into a disaster by human action. After climbing and skiing on some 40 of the world's major 6,000-, 7,000-, and 8,000-meter peaks, this is the only mountain I could not recommend to anyone: it is avalanche central."
Concluding paragraph:
"I, along with many others, fully expected something like this avalanche to happen on Manaslu; we even knew two possible places where it could hit. I have nothing to lose by piping in, and if my reality can twist someone else's arm, I will twist hard. It's not for me to judge if you go, but if you do, think about every step and make decisions on your own. I guarantee every inch of the mountain will demand total respect, with virtually no place to let your guard down."

Friday, October 12, 2012

ESPN Avy Series & Stevens Pass


ESPN -- the website -- has started a six-part series on avalanches.

Actually, really seven parts, as the intro piece is quite compelling.

The first part (or is that the second part?) profiles the 34 avalanche victims from this past winter.

This is accompanied by a separate photo essay (making for eight parts total I suppose).

(BTW, maybe it was just me, but I had some troubles in Chrome, although IE displayed it perfectly.)
Positioning your cursor/pointer in the lower left pops up a brief bio.
The bios in the photo essay lack any information about the deadly incidents, but just seeing one victim after another (sometimes with family) makes for some very emotional viewing.

Note that the author has an article about the Steven Pass incident in the latest issue of Outside magazine, but no mention of it yet on the Outside website (although a brief blurb is available elsewhere from the author)..

Her ESPN piece also has many references to the Steven Pass incident, especially in the conclusion:
"For me, the lessons learned extend much further. I came face-to-face with death. I made a choice to ski terrain that came very close to killing me, and did kill three of my friends."
"I think constantly about what happened that day at Stevens Pass. Like a war zone, a slow-motion series of horrific moments is burned into my brain. I think about the soundless cracking of the avalanche, and how, in those first few moments afterward, as I skied down the now-icy slide path with my beacon in search mode, my mind and body went into overdrive, terror and focus running through my veins. I can still hear the frantically ticking clock of my heartbeat during the ensuing search for our missing friends."
"And worst of all, I recall the moment of realization, after 10 minutes of searching, 10 more of probing and shoveling, and nearly an hour of members of our group conducting CPR, when we knew we'd lost them. That sensation -- one of terror, sorrow and utter disbelief, which followed me back to the base of the ski area, in the car on the ride home, throughout the ensuing media blitz that followed, and for days, weeks and months after -- buckled my knees and changed my mindset forever."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

MAMMUT RescYOU Video

I have no idea whether this is worthwhile, but the footage of the skier falling into the crevasse is impressively scary!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

POV Avy Footage: 2 1/2 Years Later!

As POV avy footage goes, this is good, although not outstanding:
http://vimeo.com/50417601#
(Jump to around 1:48 for the action.)

The amazing part though is that this incident occurred about two-and-a-half years ago:
http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php/190813-TR-When-everything-turns-to-shit
The camera was found only just now, and not only was the footage able to be retrieved, but the camera also still works!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Avy Expert Dies at Avy Workshop -- Indoors

This has to be first, but in a horribly tragic way:  an attendee died at the 2012 International Snow Science Workshop, held this past week in Anchorage.

And not just any attendee, but the well-known and highly regarded Theo Meiners.

Tributes here (and probably many other places too very soon):

http://www.powdermag.com/first-chair/heli-ski-pioneer-dies-in-fall/
http://outerlocal.com/skiing/theo-meiners-1953-2012-outpost

This appears to the most complete account of the cause:

http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/article.php?art_id=9043

Accident claims local ski legend


By Emma Breysse, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
September 22, 2012


Backcountry ski pioneer and longtime ski guide Theo Meiners died in a fall Thursday night in Anchorage, Alaska. 

Meiners was trying to ride down the handrails of an escalator in a downtown mall when he fell 60 feet to the ground, Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Marlene Lammers said. 

Witnesses told police Meiners was drinking at a party earlier in the night, she said. 

The 30-year Jackson Hole guide and owner of Alaska Rendezvous Heli-Guides was in Anchorage attending the International Snow Science Workshop, Lammers said. 

Meiners, 59, was pronounced dead at the scene. Lammers said police believe he died in the fall. Foul play is not suspected, but the medical examiner will probably perform an autopsy in the next several days. 

Meiners had a long career in mountaineering and guiding. He worked as an instructor and guide for the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Mountain Sports School every year since the winter of 1978-79. 

In Alaska, he worked for two well-known heli-ski companies. 

“Theo was a mentor for me both philosophically and technically,” mountain guide Tom Turiano said Friday afternoon. “He maintained his passion for mountaineering and skiing longer than anyone I know.” 

Turiano is the author of “Teton Skiing — A History and Guide.” As discoverer of the “Arch” couloir and a major participant in the skiing world of the mid-1980s, Meiners is mentioned several times in that book. 

Employees at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort credited Meiners on Friday as a pioneer and a mentor. 

Resort President Jerry Blann said the resort family is saddened by Meiners’ death. 

“He brought skill and experience when both teaching and guiding, and, just as important, he brought enthusiasm and passion to everything that involved his true loves, the mountains and skiing,” Blann said in an email. “He will be missed.”

In a statement passed on through friends, Meiners’ family said they are setting up an avalanche awareness fund in his name and requested that all memorials be made in the form of donations. Details on the fund will be released when they are final.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Massive Avy on Manaslu

Even by the horrific standards of horribly large and destructive avalanches in the Himalayas, this one sounds especially horrific -- here's a relatively current and complete report:

http://daily.epictv.com/blog/2012/09/23/avalanche-on-manaslu-plake-alive-remy-and-greg-missing/

The confirmed (?) death toll appears to be nine so far, with possibly more to be added.

The avalanche apparently was caused by serac fall, and hit very early in the morning, when all the victims were still in camp.

This account from survivor Glen Plake is especially harrowing:

"It was 4:45a and I was in my sleeping bag with my headlamp on reading my devotional when we heard a roar. Greg looked at me and said, “That was a big gust of wind,” then a second later, “No, that was an avalanche.” Then it hit us. I was swept 300 meters over a serac and down the mountain and came to a stop still in my sleeping bag, still inside the tent, still with my headlamp on. We all went to sleep with avalanche transceivers on so I punched my way out of the tent and started searching. I searched for 10 minutes before I realized I was barefoot in the snow."

(And yes, Glen Plake, despite being known mainly for resort-based showmanship, has been an accomplished ski mountaineer for many years, long before its current popularity.)


Friday, September 21, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! - Part 3


As I previously wrote, the review quiz for my ski patrol Mountain Travel & Rescue Course includes three questions with the theme of “Lions and Tiger and Bears, Oh My!” -- or, when animals attack:
  1. type of North American animal attack with the most emergency room visits;
  2. type of North American animal attack with the most human deaths; and,
  3. type of Northeastern U.S. animal attack with the most incidents of potentially highly adverse health effects.
Students tend to put down all sorts of terrifying species -- e.g., snakes -- for any or even all of these questions, even though the correct answers involve far less "impressive" animal species.

I can't recall though if anyone has ever put down moose, or more specifically, brain-worm-affected moose:


Manic moose in Vermont rampage; brain worm is to blame, says game warden

Vermonter Brent Olsen awoke Sunday to find a bull moose messing with his car. He tried to get the moose away, but went for his camcorder when he noticed the moose's erratic, and then violent, behavior, which he later learned was a symptom of brain worm.

Comments (6)

CBSNEWSONLINE VIA YOUTUBE

Brent Olsen, of Westford, Vt., was spooked when he found a deranged moose on his property.

A Vermont man’s encounter with a manic moose started off “cute,” but ended in horror as the animal had to be put down by a state game warden.
Brent Olsen of Westford awoke Sunday to find a bull moose with its hoof on his car. He tried to shoo him away, he told CBS affiliate WCAX.
“I started hollering at it, ‘Do not jump on my car, Mr. Moose!” Olsen said.
He soon became fascinated and clutched a camcorder to tape the creature’s erratic behavior — which appeared as if he were inebriated.
“A moose with ivy in its horns — I thought it was kind of cute.” he told WCAX.
But Olsen quickly changed his tune when the beast — which typically weighs more than 800 pounds — bolted toward him.
“It scared the crap out of me,” he added.
The video shows the moose charging Olsen, who flew out of the way. At another point, the animal is seen walking in circles, even bumping into a flag pole.
Olsen said the moose rammed into his home four times before a state game warden arrived.
MOOSE_2_WEB

CBSNEWSONLINE VIA YOUTUBE

So why was he acting out?
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Lt. Curtis Smiley told WCAX the moose was exhibiting symptoms of brain worm, a parasite that lives in grazing mammals.
“I have never seen a moose act like that,” Smiley said.
MOOSE_10_WEB

CBSNEWSONLINE VIA YOUTUBE

In the end, officials decided to shoot the moose.
“Very sad to see a beautiful, healthy animal suffer from something like this,” Olsen said.
MOOSE_11_WEB

CBSNEWSONLINE VIA YOUTUBE

Brain worm in moose is not uncommon. At Acadia National Park in Maine, park biologist Bruce Conner told Fenceviewer.com that the animals have been found after falling off cliffs or getting hit by cars.
“The ones that had accidents and died may have been infected with brain worm,” Connery said. “That makes animals do irrational things.”


Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/manic-moose-vermont-rampage-brain-worm-blame-game-warden-article-1.1152261#ixzz272hem7vO


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dramatic Rescue on Franconia Ridge

http://www.wildnh.com/Newsroom/News_2012/Q3/sr_Franconia_carryout_091912.html


CONTACT:
Lt. James Kneeland: 603-271-3361
Lt. Dave Eskeland: 603-271-3127
September 19, 2012

Injured Michigan Hiker Rescued on Franconia Ridge

CONCORD, N.H. – Heroic efforts by search teams working through the night, enduring high winds and torrential downpours, rescued an injured Michigan hiker stranded on the Franconia Ridge Trail in New Hampshire's White Mountains on Tuesday, September 18, 2012. 
Fifty-nine year old Edward Bacon of Northville, Michigan, was on the third day of a five-day solo trek in and around Franconia Notch, N.H., when he fell Tuesday afternoon and seriously injured his hip at about 1:30 p.m.  Bacon crawled to an area where he was able to get brief cell phone reception and called both 911 and the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) Lodge in Pinkham Notch.  He was equipped with backpacking gear, although his tent had blown away in the fierce winds. Bacon was able to climb into his sleeping bag to stay warm, as he was becoming hypothermic from being rain-soaked and pummeled by winds while awaiting rescuers.
AMC initially sent out a rescuer from the Greenleaf Hut to try to find Bacon, but high winds forced that individual to turn back. A second team of two AMC staffers set out and were able to navigate the ridge to Bacon's location (between Lincoln and Haystack), reaching him about 6:20 p.m.  Shortly thereafter, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Conservation Officers and Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team volunteers reached the injured man.
Fish and Game coordinated the 3.9-mile carryout over rough terrain in winds sustained at 70 mph, with gusts over 80 mph. Bacon was secured on a litter for his trip down the mountain. About 10 p.m., the steady rain became a torrential downpour as the rescuers worked to get the injured hiker down the Falling Waters Trail, a route normally recommended only for ascending the mountain because of its steepness. The heavy rain immediately swelled rivers and streams in the area, and Mountain Rescue Service volunteers arrived to assist with several difficult brook crossings on the way down, using ropes to help the teams cross safely.
Rescuers reached the trailhead with the injured man at 3:20 a.m. on September 19.  Bacon was then transported by Franconia Ambulance to Littleton Regional Hospital.
"I want to commend the Herculean effort of all the participating search teams working through the night in very difficult conditions and rugged terrain to carry this man to safety.  Most likely, they saved his life," said Fish and Game Lt. James Kneeland.hikeSafe Program logo
Kneeland noted that conditions are changing fast in New Hampshire's mountains.  Thedays are rapidly becoming shorter, and hikers are advised to carry lights, extra clothing and appropriate gear for a variety of weather conditions, especially at higher altitudes.  It is also critical to check on and heed weather forecasts before heading out. Learn about safe hiking, including the ten essentials to have in your pack, at www.hikesafe.com.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! - Part 2

As I previously wrote, the review quiz for my ski patrol Mountain Travel & Rescue Course includes three questions with the theme of “Lions and Tiger and Bears, Oh My!” -- or, when animals attack:
  1. type of North American animal attack with the most emergency room visits;
  2. type of North American animal attack with the most human deaths; and,
  3. type of Northeastern U.S. animal attack with the most incidents of potentially highly adverse health effects.
Students tend to put down all sorts of terrifying species -- e.g., snakes -- for any or even all of these questions, even though the correct answers involve far less "impressive" animal species.

However, locale-specific knowledge is of course important, so beware of deadly creatures like the copperhead snake when visiting exotic locations such as . . . Mt Tom?

As if the mere presence of a copperhead snake at Mt Tom wasn't already terrifying enough, a hiker was indeed bitten, and treated with anti-venom at Bay State Hospital (site of Micayla's birth, toddler hernia operation, and -- most relevant to the current topic -- the only Level 1 trauma center in Western Mass).

And for the win, after being bitten, the hiker captured the snake and brought it down with him so that it could be identified (presumably by specifies, as opposed to whether it was a repeat offender or out on parole or something).

In case you were wondering, according to the City of Holyoke police, this is officially a Bad Idea (for reasons that should be obvious . . . to everyone except the hiker apparently).

Then again, I suppose none of this is all that surprising given the many extreme aspects of Mt Tom:  typical ski outing below (from February 8, 2011).




Holyoke hiker captures venomous copperhead snake that bit him; turns snake over to authorities



A hiker in western Massachusetts was bitten by a venomous snake Saturday evening, then caught the snake and brought it to authorities, according to Holyoke Police.
The man was bitten on his leg by a copperhead at Mount Tom State Reservation in Holyoke just after 5 p.m. Saturday, said Holyoke Police Lieutenant Larry Cournoyer.
After being bitten, the man “collected the snake and carried it down from where he was walking” so Animal Control authorities could identify it, Cournoyer said.
After the snake was identified as a copperhead, the hiker was taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, where he was treated with the appropriate anti-venom, Cournoyer said.
Police do not know the man’s age or where he lives.
Although copperhead snakes are indigenous to the area, Cournoyer said local reports of copperhead bites are rare, adding that he could not recall any similar incidents in his 25 years as a police officer.
“It was cold last night, and snakes aren’t quite as active when they’re colder, so I’m assuming he stepped on the snake, which is easy to do in the woods due to the camouflaging nature of the snake,” Cournoyer said.
However, Cournoyer said capturing the snake, which put the hiker in danger of being bitten again, was a bad idea.
“You can use your cellphone and photograph the reptile so you don’t risk injury by messing with snakes,” Cournoyer said.
He said that copperhead venom is not typically fatal, especially with easy access to hospitals and anti-venoms, but said that the hiker could have become increasingly sick if he had not been treated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year, with about five cases turning fatal.
Symptoms of venomous bites include pain and swelling at the wound, nausea and vomiting, labored breathing, blurred vision, increased salivation and sweating, and tingling or numbness in the face and limbs.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Earliest Avy Bulletin Ever?

http://www.valdezavalanchecenter.org/2012/09/10/september-2012/


September 2012
Forecast valid until updated
 
AVALANCHE PROBLEM
DANGER
 

MODERATE where the new snow is wind drifted in the upper elevations
DANGER SCALE
click for danger scale
 
DANGER TREND: The danger is steady. Expect to trigger windslabs. There have been a few new snow point release avalanches to size 1.5 that have traveled 500 feet or more.
 
WEATHER: As winter approaches, the weather systems coming off the Gulf of Alaska are more organized and intense producing moist coastal air which comes into contact with below freezing air out of the interior and blanketing the mountains with new snow.
 
TRAVEL ADVISORY: The danger is only in the upper elevations, above 3500 feet. Unsuspecting hikers have been swept away, buried and killed by "termination dust".
 
AVALANCHE DISCUSSION: The six inches of rainfall in Valdez during the first week of September fell as snow in the upper elevations. There are new snow drifts six to ten feet deep above 4000 feet elevation.
A lot of last winter's exceptionally deep snowfall remains unmelted in the upper elevations. There is still snow along the road over Thompson Pass (2678' elevation). A number of the avalanche start zones and gullies are already smoothed over with old snow. Where old snow remains there is not the surface roughness which holds the season's new snow to the mountains. Also, where the old snow remains, there is less ground surface roughness reducing the runout of early season avalanches.
Post your observations <here>.
Avalanches are sized using the destructive scale <here>.
 
SNOW:  
 
VALDEZ
 THOMPSON PASS
 24 Hour 
0"
0"
September
0"
0"
Season Total
0"
0"
 Base
0"
0"
  

 
CONFIDENCE: Good.
 
DEFINITIONS:
Snow climate zones:
  1. Maritime (Coastal) - from the Port of Valdez to Thompson Pass, all waters flowing into Valdez Arm and everything south of Marshall Pass.
  2. Inter-mountain (Transitional) - between Thompson Pass and Rendezvous Lodge.
  3. Continental (Interior) - the dry north side of the Chugach (north of 46 Mile, including the Tonsina River).
ELEVATIONS:
Lower - below 1500 feet
Mid - between 1500 and 3000 feet
Upper - above 3000 feet