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  1. #1
    Gimpy NoKnees's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    Northern California

    Another weekend in South Tahoe..

    Ran off to the hills again over the weekend... Hit up Sierra for the first time in a couple years with some friends... Mostly mellow riders, so nothing too exciting going on. Just looking for some left over pow from last week in the trees and shrubs...

    Flat fluffy pillows amdist the shrubs at Sierra... A friend lounging, enjoying the sunshine..

    Another friend enjoying the Cali sunshine..

    Woke up to a steady snowfall that amounted to a foot at lake level and still falling.. Cruised over to Kirkwood to make use of our old discounted SAC fundraiser tickets... Driving conditions were typical near blizzard fun with occasional white-outs and the normal icy roads.. We took our time enjoyin the goods in and around the trees before heading over to Cornice only to find it shutting down as we slid up to the line..

    Breakfast at Kirkwood... What didn't fit in the flasks had to be stored somewhere...

    And the weather got better...

    Well, maybe not... With conditions like this, the camera didn't make it back out...

    Flasks ran dry about 3:45pm, so it was time to call it a day...

    We were hoping to get stuck up there, but some how Caltrans managed to keep 88 to Jackson open until it was time to leave. Bummer... Today would have been sweet as they opened up the rest of the front of the mountain from top to bottom with 2+ feet of fresh in many places, and most of the tracks on the lower mountain filled back in by wind and another foot of snow... Guess I'll have to wait until next weekend for more freshies... 2-3 more snow expected before then, with the possible of more falling while we are up there..

  2. #2
    Gimpy NoKnees's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Northern California

    Heavy Snow + Wind = Avy's...

    Well, evidently some people Sunday didn't notice the conditions and decided to stretch the boundaries into unopened avy country (Palisades area) late in the day for "One last run". The cover charge for that last run was paid by one of the three skiers who received cracked ribs and a punctured lung after an avalanche assisted straightline into some trees... Hmm... Blinking light at lift for avy warning, closed signs, lifts servicing that terrain shut down.... Clues? Naww..

    Monday, the day I was hoping to be out there riding instead of working, they managed to get more of that terrain opened up after doing some avy countrol work there. Unfortunately there were some very different wind patterns with the recent storm all day Sunday and into Monday, so some areas didn't get the attention they may have needed. Remember, this is not an exact science. Below is a first hand account of Monday's activity in the same area as Sunday's fun... (Ripped from TGR Forums)

    At approximately 2:20pm, while traversing into Palisades Bowl via the “low track”, I came around a tree and skied directly into the stauchwall of what appeared to be an R4, D2/3 slide. A quick scan of the event area revealed shallowly buried rocks which acted as trigger points and air pockets where heavy windloading had occurred along a 80 ft x 15 ft band of rocks, which acted as the left flank of the slab.

    This had been my fifth or sixth lap on this slope and snow safety/ avy control work had been completed earlier in the day. I had dug a few hand (hasty) pits here throughout the day and also had not noted any cracking or whoomping of the snowpack in this area.

    Having been making quick laps and knowing there were a few other skiers in the immediate area, my best estimate was that this slide occurred somewhere between 20 seconds and 2 minutes prior to my arrival on the scene. Beginning at the stauchwall and working in a zig zag fashion, I initiated a beacon search of the deposition which returned no signals. I spot probed in front of 20 or so trees along the way, working pretty thoroughly but quickly to the bottom of the deposition. The avalanche path was pretty poorly defined, and I don’t know this to be an area that slides frequently. I suspect the unusual SSW windloading that occurred previous to this event went unnoticed as a red flag. Approximately 30 seconds after initiating my search, another party of three (all equipped with avy gear) assisted in the beacon search. They radioed for patrol at 2:28 and a handful of patrollers and a few employees arrived within two or three minutes.

    As I got to the bottom of the deposition I realized the slide was much bigger than I originally estimated from standing at the top. The approximate width of the deposition was 50m and probably close to 125m in length. Knowing a probe line would have to be assembled, I started working my way (sidestepping) up the left edge of the deposition back to the top knowing that probing downhill would be much more efficient than trying to work back up in waist deep snow. By the time I got back to the top of the deposition, approximately 15 people were on scene and patrol had arrived with extra bags of shovels and probes. We proceeded to work a probe line down from the top and as more skiers slowly came, there was a patrolman organizing a probe line working from the bottom up as well. In 30 or so minutes, approximately 15 Kirkwood patrollers and employees and 25 volunteers were coarse probing the deposition working towards each other. Avalanche dog handlers (3, I think) arrived approximately 20-25 minutes thereafter with the RECCO bag and also found no signs of victims.

    After probing the entire slide area no gear or victims were found, and the search was called off at 5:35 pm.

    Wear your beacons and carry your avy gear ALL THE TIME folks. Be safe and ski with a buddy. I can't tell you how scary it was thinking the whole time that I might actually strike a victim under that pile. Luckily, this just turned out to be good old fashioned real-life practice.


    Do the math on how long it took the resort patrol to get to the area with the recco gear and enough people to probe the entire area. Also take note of how many of the first responders had avy beacons. If you want to go off the groomers on a "Big Dump" kinda day, come prepared. If it doesn't save your life, you can help save someoen elses...

    Oh, and back to same thread above, someone did the math. Same guy who was first on scene:

    I feel pretty safe saying YES - if somebody was buried and beeping, they would have been yanked alive within 10 minutes. Tops.

    2 minutes (maybe) until beacon search was initiated


    15-20 minutes until half assed probe line even started to assemble
    25-30 minutes until dogs and recco gear was on scene
    45-50 minutes until probe lines were running and actually making progress
    hours until probing was completed

    End PSA.

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