Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Springtime Hazards

Soon our local avalanche bulletin will go back into permanent Low mode, and the safety focus will shift to springtime hazards unrelated to snow stability.

Complacency can easily set in regarding these hazards, but from out West, two harrowing reminders:

First is a very close call -- pretty much as close as it can get -- from the Sierra with what was apparently a collapse through undermined snow into a hidden creek.  Look carefully at the video to see how deeply buried the victim was, and upside down too.

Second is a personal account by a party member of his older brother's death in a steep skiing fall.

Tuesday morning tragic addendum from Mt Washington:
On Sunday afternoon, Norman Priebatsch, from the Boston area, accompanied by three other party members (including an adult son), fell into a "crevasse" in Tuckerman Ravine.  Although these are technically glide cracks, not crevasses, nevertheless this one mimicked a real glacier crevasse:  despite heroic rescue efforts that included lowering a USFS snow ranger 50 feet into the crack, rescuers could not make any contact with the victim.  The rescue effort was eventually suspended just an hour shy of midnight.
Although rescue efforts were intended to commence once conditions allowed, with cold running water in the crevasse, along with other hazards . . .

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