Avalanche Near SLC, UT

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ker0uac
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Re: Avalanche Near SLC, UT

Post by ker0uac » Mon Feb 08, 2021 2:11 pm

curt86iroc wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:09 am
it may not be a matter of education, but more a matter of risk …and the person's acceptance of risk. my hunch is, the majority of people who were caught and killed this past week knew what the risks were, and decided to accept them. this is a personal choice and education alone isn't going to fix this. everyone's threshold for risk acceptance vs. mitigation is different...and sometimes it catches up with you.
Totally agree. Though I don't see anything that needs to be "fixed" here. They were experienced, they knew the risks and they chose to accept them. It is condescending to judge others based on your risk tolerance. Just because you think the danger is too great at present to go BC skiing doesn't distinguish you at all, it just simply reflects your lower risk tolerance.

We laud those who accomplish mountaineering feats: "They are incredible! Such an outstanding climber, ultra focused and dedicated". We pity those who don't make it: "They ignored/didn't account for the risks present in that route".

When I hear of tragedies involving experienced mountaineers, I feel sad because I know we got such slim margins of error and you can't always beat the odds, but I am comforted by the fact that they lived and died doing what they loved.
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Bale
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Re: Avalanche Near SLC, UT

Post by Bale » Mon Feb 08, 2021 2:18 pm

You both make good points. Curt is right that there are always some people that will go ride no matter what. In my mind, these can be divided into two groups; true novices who are stoked to get out and use their new setup who have no clue that the two foot wind slab is scary, sort of Dunning-Kruger folks that have no idea how much they don’t know, (I think the forecasters/ educators have done a good job with this group), and the experienced ones who somehow become complacent through familiarity and positive reinforcement. Obviously this is a simplification and not an attempt to second guess the decisions of the deceased. RIP.
The earth, like the sun, like the air, belongs to everyone - and to no one. - Edward Abbey
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Re: Avalanche Near SLC, UT

Post by Bale » Mon Feb 08, 2021 2:38 pm

Good post kerOuac.
The earth, like the sun, like the air, belongs to everyone - and to no one. - Edward Abbey
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Jorts
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Re: Avalanche Near SLC, UT

Post by Jorts » Mon Feb 08, 2021 2:39 pm

curt86iroc wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 1:31 pm

I don't agree that one needs to be a forecaster level of experience to understand the risks from Saturday (day of this accident). the hazards were very obvious in that region, and anyone who read the report from UAC knew what the risks were that day. again, i suspect the group was experienced enough to know what the risks were, but accepted them. I'm curious if the survivors speak more about it in the coming weeks. not placing blame here at all. just trying to highlight that we all have different levels of risk acceptance.
That's fair. You do not have to be a forecaster to understand the risks. But still it seems presumptuous to assume they knew the risks and accepted them. 8 should never be caught in the same slide. That's why I find it unlikely they understood the risks. Groups that truly grasp the risks take mitigation measures like traveling one at a time through the problem area.

This Utah incident reminded me of the deep persistent slab that killed 5 on Loveland Pass in 2013. The solo survivor said they were aware of the DPS issues and were deliberately avoiding steep slopes. They failed to consider how deep DPS slides tend to break and subsequently how far (relative to alpha angle) they can travel. They were not knowingly accepting risk when all 6 of them were caught by that slide.

To your point... Maybe there are just more people that fall into the "intermediate/advanced" classification of backcountry users, thus more of those people are involved in avy incidents than beginners and experts. And maybe it's analogous to "there are old climbers and bold climbers but few old, bold climbers," such that avalanche experts are naturally more cautious.
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Fireweed
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Re: Avalanche Near SLC, UT

Post by Fireweed » Mon Feb 08, 2021 2:52 pm

https://twitter.com/dipsetcarini/status ... 92896?s=20

Video of an avalanche from the Unitas yesterday.
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Jorts
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Re: Avalanche Near SLC, UT

Post by Jorts » Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:07 pm

ker0uac wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 2:11 pm
Totally agree. Though I don't see anything that needs to be "fixed" here. They were experienced, they knew the risks and they chose to accept them. It is condescending to judge others based on your risk tolerance. Just because you think the danger is too great at present to go BC skiing doesn't distinguish you at all, it just simply reflects your lower risk tolerance.
Who do you feel is condescending to those who accept risks? I've been backcountry skiing all season and understand the risks. I have no doubt Johnny Tsunami in East Vail understood the risks. He was the only one caught in that slide and they were exposing one person to the hazard at a time. I'm not as confident these 8 twenty somethings really knew how risky that area was. I was not trying to insinuate anything else.
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Re: Avalanche Near SLC, UT

Post by ker0uac » Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:15 pm

Jorts wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:07 pm
I've been backcountry skiing all season and understand the risks.
And Im sure you would hate if gob forbid you were to have a fatal accident and someone here began saying "I don't think Jorts really understood what he was getting into, I think he failed to consider blah blah"
Last edited by ker0uac on Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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curt86iroc
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Re: Avalanche Near SLC, UT

Post by curt86iroc » Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:23 pm

ker0uac wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:15 pm
Jorts wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:07 pm
I've been backcountry skiing all season and understand the risks.
And Im sure you would hate if gob forbid you were to have a fatal accident and some punk here began saying "I don't think Jorts really understood what he was getting into, I think he failed to consider blah blah"
there is a difference between sounding like a condescending jerk and accurately conveying the factors that led up to a fatal accident. sometimes, you need to convey information that the subject missed in order for others to understand and learn from the accident. If you read ANAM, this is how a fair number of accident reports are written. Just because you highlight someone's lack of experience, for example, it doesn't mean you're being a jerk. it's more about how you say it...
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Re: Avalanche Near SLC, UT

Post by Jorts » Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:46 pm

ker0uac wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:15 pm
Jorts wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:07 pm
I've been backcountry skiing all season and understand the risks.
And Im sure you would hate if gob forbid you were to have a fatal accident and someone here began saying "I don't think Jorts really understood what he was getting into, I think he failed to consider blah blah"
I guess it depends, man. If me and several of my partners were all caught and those that survived said, "we never thought it would rip," I'd say I didn't understand the risks. If we were skiing one at a time, and I got caught and died, then I'd say we understood the risks. Regardless, I'd want others to learn from my death.

Sorry if I came off as condescending with my speculation. Not my intent. sometimes it's hard to convey sarcasm, sincerity, etc. on an internet forum.
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Re: Avalanche Near SLC, UT

Post by greenonion » Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:56 pm

Fireweed wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 2:52 pm
https://twitter.com/dipsetcarini/status ... 92896?s=20

Video of an avalanche from the Unitas yesterday.
Super lucky! (at least the ones alive that you can see) Thanks for sharing. Super scary.
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Re: Avalanche Near SLC, UT

Post by SkaredShtles » Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:56 pm

Jorts wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 12:03 pm
<snip>
If you look at the slope where this accident occurred, it appears innocuous. It was only 31 degrees! It has a few open areas but it's fairly well timbered, particularly down ridge. The crown propagated through the trees. An advanced backcountry user who has skied this and similar terrain hundreds of times without incident would think nothing of the risk here. Someone expert - like an avalanche forecaster - would be more likely to recognize this terrain's capacity to produce a large dangerous slide given snowpack conditions. Truly grasping what's possible given very specific conditions... that takes a lot more experience than I have.

So I think those forecaster level experts can make real risk assessments. I don't think intermediate-advanced users are really capable of understanding the risk.
This readily available information *should* have been known to an advanced/experienced BC user. Note - the highlighted items are *all* avalanch reports from this exact glade. Also worth noting - these avy incidents are from 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2021 - so this slope, IMO, could be considered a "regular" problem.

avalanche-utah_Feb21.jpg
avalanche-utah_Feb21.jpg (44.96 KiB) Viewed 274 times
ker0uac
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Re: Avalanche Near SLC, UT

Post by ker0uac » Mon Feb 08, 2021 4:04 pm

curt86iroc wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:23 pm
ker0uac wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:15 pm
Jorts wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:07 pm
I've been backcountry skiing all season and understand the risks.
And Im sure you would hate if gob forbid you were to have a fatal accident and some punk here began saying "I don't think Jorts really understood what he was getting into, I think he failed to consider blah blah"
there is a difference between sounding like a condescending jerk and accurately conveying the factors that led up to a fatal accident. sometimes, you need to convey information that the subject missed in order for others to understand and learn from the accident. If you read ANAM, this is how a fair number of accident reports are written. Just because you highlight someone's lack of experience, for example, it doesn't mean you're being a jerk. it's more about how you say it...
No I think feeling pity for them is condescending, not running a post-mortem on the accident.

However, I do take issue with ANAM analysis at times. The reason being that some reports make it seem like accidents can always be linked to a human-made error. In a way, it is a coping mechanism for mountaineers - we all want to believe that as long as we make the right decisions, accidents won't happen to us. In reality, there are so many concurrent variables at play interacting in such a non-linear chaotic system that it is just not possible to say, "well it all happened because subject A decided to do this and that". Not all reports are like that though. Another issue is that we don't do post-mortem on successful feats, reinforcing the illusion that mountaineering accidents are caused by bad decisions.
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