Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Harrowing Rescue Video

I don't usually pay much attention to snowmachiner avalanche incidents, since their travel mode is so much different than ours.
However, this Utah incident report and video provide some valuable lessons:

  • Beware of Mission Creep- The victim didn't bother bringing his beacon because his original plan was just to stay on a low-angle road, but when he saw his buddies up high...
  • Don't Trust Tracks- The video clearly shows how the slope released only on the umpteenth track.
  • Place/Point Last Seen ("PLS")- One person with a POV cam is stationary and focused during the avalanche, and he (or someone else?) exhorts everyone to do the same by yelling "Where's He At?!?  Where's He At?!?"
  • Channel Your Inner Al Haig- The Secretary of State was generally mocked for his "I am in control here" press conference after the Reagan assassination attempt as it came off a bit like some semi-coup attempt.  But in the midst of chaos -- perceived or otherwise -- just having anybody take charge is better than nothing, as demonstrated by the one rescuer who is giving orders (e.g., to ready a probe).
  • Persistent Instability- As the UAC forecaster scoops out a handfuls of obviously weak facets, he comments that the instability won't go away until the snow is coming out of their water taps.
The professionally produced video also includes some sobering post-incident interviews with the party members.  The entire video is quite long, but worth watching in its entirety.

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