Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

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Jorts
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Re: Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

Post by Jorts » Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:38 am

Carl_Healy wrote:
Thu Feb 04, 2021 12:06 pm
I just took AIARE I and thought that would help in the chance myself or my companions were to be buried, but those photos are a bit eye opening.
Even if there were 5 companions carrying probes and shovels I don't think they'd be able to get to anyone buried that deep in time to save them...
I think it was briefly mentioned earlier this season before we had any snow but it's more relevant now than ever - CAIC's recent study about the experience level of who is involved in avalanche incidents is telling. It's a bell curve.

Beginners tend to either avoid avalanche terrain entirely or defer to a more experienced person. They're often extremely paranoid and question every slope on every aspect as suspect.

With a little experience and an avy course or two, backcountry users build confidence. They can manage terrain and make judgement calls. But that growing confidence leads to reduced margins and positive feedback loops that contribute to increased confidence and affirm decision making even if those positive outcomes have as much to do with luck as skill. Intermediate-advanced users think if something does go wrong, they can manage it with companion rescue skills.

True avalanche experts understand the law of averages. And the destructive power of avalanches. They realize that even if they could ski a slope 999 times out of 1000 without it sliding, that is not sufficient for reaching old age while skiing 100+ backcountry days every winter. They are not lulled into complacency and overconfidence by positive feedback loops. And they realize they cannot outsmart the snowpack and terrain so they leave wider margins knowing their snowpack assessments lack 100% certainty. Even with justified confidence that a slope will not slide, they still consider what layer would fail, how deeply it would break, and what terrain traps exist if it did.

I'm not an authority on human behavior. This is just my educated guess.

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Re: Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

Post by curt86iroc » Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:54 am

This has been an absolutely horrible weak for avalanche fatalities in the US. Aside from CO, people have been killed in NH, CA and UT. This is the single worst weak for avalanche fatalities in (my) recent memory (not counting sheep creek)...

https://www.necn.com/news/local/backcou ... e/2398534/

https://www.shastaavalanche.org/avalanc ... ality#/all

https://utahavalanchecenter.org/avalanche/58594
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Re: Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

Post by TomPierce » Fri Feb 05, 2021 10:34 am

Jorts wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:38 am
True avalanche experts understand the law of averages. And the destructive power of avalanches. They realize that even if they could ski a slope 999 times out of 1000 without it sliding, that is not sufficient for reaching old age while skiing 100+ backcountry days every winter. They are not lulled into complacency and overconfidence by positive feedback loops. And they realize they cannot outsmart the snowpack and terrain so they leave wider margins knowing their snowpack assessments lack 100% certainty. Even with justified confidence that a slope will not slide, they still consider what layer would fail, how deeply it would break, and what terrain traps exist if it did.
I agree with this. I recall when I took avalanche training in the pre-AIARE days that our instructor shared an anecdote: The dude who wrote either Snow Sense or The ABC's avalanche book (can't remember which one) had his class analyze a slope for most of a day, then it was pronounced probably safe for travel. That same day it slid. Not sure if that's true or an urban myth, but when delivered in class it was a bit jarring.

I try to adopt a similar mindset when tech climbing, always trying to double check knots, etc. even though I've probably tied in way over a thousand times. Play with snakes long enough, a bite is inevitable, regardless of your skill level.

And condolences to the families and friends of those who died. A rough snow season, for sure.

-Tom
Last edited by TomPierce on Fri Feb 05, 2021 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

Post by d_baker » Fri Feb 05, 2021 10:42 am

curt86iroc wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:54 am
This has been an absolutely horrible weak for avalanche fatalities in the US. Aside from CO, people have been killed in NH, CA and UT. This is the single worst weak for avalanche fatalities in (my) recent memory (not counting sheep creek)...

https://www.necn.com/news/local/backcou ... e/2398534/

https://www.shastaavalanche.org/avalanc ... ality#/all

https://utahavalanchecenter.org/avalanche/58594
Also 3 hikers in Alaska.
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Re: Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

Post by Wentzl » Fri Feb 05, 2021 10:48 am

Shorter of Breath and One Day Closer . . .
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Re: Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

Post by HikerGuy » Fri Feb 05, 2021 11:04 am

And there is a hiker missing in Boulder County out of the Hessie Trailhead. Last cell phone ping was in the vicinity of the CDT.

https://www.bouldercounty.org/news/miss ... ue-action/
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Re: Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

Post by Carl_Healy » Fri Feb 05, 2021 11:07 am

Jorts wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:38 am

I think it was briefly mentioned earlier this season before we had any snow but it's more relevant now than ever - CAIC's recent study about the experience level of who is involved in avalanche incidents is telling. It's a bell curve.
My AIARE instructor pointed this out right at the end of the course.
Paraphrasing: "Thanks for taking AIARE I. You're now statistically MORE likely to be caught in an avalanche."

:(
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Re: Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

Post by OldTrad » Fri Feb 05, 2021 11:16 am

TomPierce wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 10:34 am
Jorts wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:38 am
True avalanche experts understand the law of averages. And the destructive power of avalanches. They realize that even if they could ski a slope 999 times out of 1000 without it sliding, that is not sufficient for reaching old age while skiing 100+ backcountry days every winter. They are not lulled into complacency and overconfidence by positive feedback loops. And they realize they cannot outsmart the snowpack and terrain so they leave wider margins knowing their snowpack assessments lack 100% certainty. Even with justified confidence that a slope will not slide, they still consider what layer would fail, how deeply it would break, and what terrain traps exist if it did.
I agree with this. I recall when I took avalanche training in the pre-AIARE days that our instructor shared an anecdote: The dude who wrote either Snow Sense or The ABC's avalanche book (can't remember which one) had his class analyze a slope for most of a day, then it was pronounced probably safe for travel. That same day it slid. Not sure if that's true or an urban myth, but when delivered in class it was a bit jarring.

I try to adopt a similar mindset when tech climbing, always trying to double check knots, etc. even though I've probably tied in way over a thousand times. Play with snakes long enough, a bite is inevitable, regardless of your skill level.

And condolences to the families and friends of those who died. A rough snow season, for sure.

-Tom
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Re: Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

Post by Chicago Transplant » Fri Feb 05, 2021 11:29 am

Carl_Healy wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 11:07 am
Jorts wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:38 am

I think it was briefly mentioned earlier this season before we had any snow but it's more relevant now than ever - CAIC's recent study about the experience level of who is involved in avalanche incidents is telling. It's a bell curve.
My AIARE instructor pointed this out right at the end of the course.
Paraphrasing: "Thanks for taking AIARE I. You're now statistically MORE likely to be caught in an avalanche."

:(
Definitely agree.

The advice that stuck with me from my AIARE I class was "don't ski something with an avalanche beacon that you wouldn't ski without one". In other words, the point is to avoid getting caught in the first place. Even with beacons people can be buried too deep/too long or suffer life threatening/ending trauma from the ride through the debris and that you should not rely on a beacon to save you.
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Re: Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

Post by RyGuy » Fri Feb 05, 2021 11:40 am

While we are discussing... San Juan County SAR has put out a request for help in paying for broken and damaged equipment from this week's recovery mission.

Keep in mind they also had a rough recovery mission back right before Christmas for 2 skiers killed on The Battleship.

If you have some spare change, I am sure they would appreciate the help: https://www.facebook.com/sjcoem/

-Ryan
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Re: Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

Post by CaptCO » Fri Feb 05, 2021 1:12 pm

RyGuy wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 11:40 am
While we are discussing... San Juan County SAR has put out a request for help in paying for broken and damaged equipment from this week's recovery mission.

Keep in mind they also had a rough recovery mission back right before Christmas for 2 skiers killed on The Battleship.

If you have some spare change, I am sure they would appreciate the help: https://www.facebook.com/sjcoem/

-Ryan
Ryan, a donation link for those of us without Facebook? Thanks for the tip
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Re: Avalanche San Juans- The Nose

Post by RyGuy » Fri Feb 05, 2021 1:50 pm

CaptCO wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 1:12 pm
RyGuy wrote:
Fri Feb 05, 2021 11:40 am
While we are discussing... San Juan County SAR has put out a request for help in paying for broken and damaged equipment from this week's recovery mission.

Keep in mind they also had a rough recovery mission back right before Christmas for 2 skiers killed on The Battleship.

If you have some spare change, I am sure they would appreciate the help: https://www.facebook.com/sjcoem/

-Ryan
Ryan, a donation link for those of us without Facebook? Thanks for the tip
Alec- Here is the direct PayPal donation page they have setup: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_b ... ahZpNVZ4m4
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