Avalanches Kill 3 at Stevens Pass, 1 at Alpental

  • jj
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19 Feb 2012 14:19 - 19 Feb 2012 14:59 #203985 by jj

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19 Feb 2012 14:31 #203986 by Shred13

Details are just starting to trickle in.

Looks like they have accounted for the other 8, what a sad day! Heard and seen lots of emergency personal driving past Skykomish.

www.king5.com/news/People-reported-missi...anche-139645233.html

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  • Lowell_Skoog
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19 Feb 2012 14:46 - 19 Feb 2012 14:59 #203988 by Lowell_Skoog
Replied by Lowell_Skoog on topic Re: Avalanche Near Steven's Pass kills 3, 8 missing
Also, a snowboarder has died in an avalanche today at Alpental.

today.seattletimes.com/2012/02/two-peopl...che-at-stevens-pass/

Horrible. This may be the most deadly day of avalanches involving skiers and boarders in the history of Washington state.

alpenglow.org/ski-history/notes/book/logan-1996.html
alpenglow.org/ski-history/notes/web/www-avalanche-org.html

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19 Feb 2012 14:51 #203989 by JPH
Wow, that's a lot of bad news for one day. Anybody have more info on the Alpy incident? Patrol got some big stuff to go this morning.

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  • Don Heath
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19 Feb 2012 15:06 #203990 by Don Heath
I camped at Skyline lake last night with our Boy Scout Troop.  Lots of avalanche bombing started around 6 or so this morning.  We had 12-18" of really light powder come down overnight, and some wind drifts, on top of what came down yesterday.

We headed down around noon.  I estimate I saw 30 skiers and a couple handfuls of snowshoers coming up as we went down.    Epic skiing AND epic danger out there today.  I overheard at least one group talking about decision making, and pre-setting limits on terrain and risk on the way up. 

The ski down the south face was sublime even with a 40 lb pack.  I hope everybody continues to make good decisions through the day and we don't hear of more casualties. We were passed by 6-8 emergency vehicles as we drove down the mountain.

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19 Feb 2012 15:16 #203991 by RonL
This is terrible news. We were touring, along with many others, yesterday at Yodelin and things appeared relatively stable for the amount of new snow. It was only a couple of obvious and predictable steep rollovers that we were able to get moving. However a lot more was coming down while we were there and that can change things quick.

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  • trees4me
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19 Feb 2012 15:22 #203992 by trees4me
Very sad. My condolences to the families.

FWIW, on a Kendall Stump tour yesterday we were getting shooting cracks in the new snow layer (12-24"). Got a 15' soft slab failure between switchbacks. That was in open areas of glades <4500'. The new snow seemed to be easily triggered on slopes above ~35deg, but not below. There was also a grapel layer in the new snow that was reactive (about 4-6" down at 3pm).
Be safe.

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19 Feb 2012 15:45 #203993 by Snowolf
My condolences go out to the friends and families of the victims and heartfelt support to the patrollers and other law enforcement and emergency personnel tasked with this grim job of recovery.

Hope no one from here was involved.

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  • VerticallyInclined
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19 Feb 2012 15:52 - 19 Feb 2012 16:05 #203994 by VerticallyInclined
Replied by VerticallyInclined on topic Re: Avalanches Kill 3 at Stevens Pass, 1 at Alpental
"All of the skiers in the three groups were said to be experienced, and all had appropriate gear."

This makes me cringe, thinking about which one of my friends it could be.    Even someone unknown to me, I am sorry to see their lives lost.   From what I have read, a skier up and above the three, triggered a small avalanche.   It propagated and grew, running 3000+ feet.   It is my understanding that the skier who caused the avalanche was not one of the fatal victims.   

The accident occurred on the backside side-country running down to Tunnel Creek U-turn.   



More information here: www.powdermag.com/stevens_pass-news/thre...vens-pass-avalanche/

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  • Bird Dog
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19 Feb 2012 16:01 #203995 by Bird Dog
wow, my condolances to those who lost someone today. I headed up to stevens this morning to ski the lifts with my boys, and we were turned back due to no parking at all; completely full.

Sad...

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  • SeatownSlackey
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19 Feb 2012 16:25 - 19 Feb 2012 17:08 #203997 by SeatownSlackey
Replied by SeatownSlackey on topic Re: Avalanches Kill 3 at Stevens Pass, 1 at Alpental
*removed names of potential victims -- nothing has been released to the public that I know of*

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19 Feb 2012 16:39 #203999 by haggis
Delete your post, inappropriate in the utmost.

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19 Feb 2012 17:05 #204001 by z-bo
Maybe not a good call to say it first or before the news releases the names, but it is the truth.

Skiing mourns the death of three of the greatest in the northwest. Many tears will be shed tonight.

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  • Marcus
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19 Feb 2012 17:10 #203998 by Marcus
I removed the names for now, until the families have been notified and the info is public. Tragic day, so sorry for friends and family.

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19 Feb 2012 17:16 #204002 by Mofro
Very sad news out of Steven's Pass, you will be missed.  

The Alpental accident occurred on the 80's chute/E.S.A.D. past shot8.  From staring out the front window and across the street it looks like a pocket above let loose or was remote triggered and flushed the rider out over ~300-400+ft of near vertical.  

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  • JimG
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19 Feb 2012 17:45 #204003 by JimG
Toured Yodelin below burn-out as well today. Was very cautious, read all the intel, made continual observations and collected some pit data. All data & observations pointed to a (relatively) stable slope. I can only hope that I read everything properly and didn't just get lucky..

Sincerest condolences to, family, friends, and all those who saw things today that they will likely wish they could forget...

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  • mattgoyer
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19 Feb 2012 18:08 - 19 Feb 2012 18:13 #204006 by mattgoyer
This ESPN article, Stevens Pass avalanche kills three , interviews  Megan Michelson and Elyse Saugstad who were skiing with the group and has the most details I've seen on the accident.

Super sad day.

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19 Feb 2012 19:35 - 19 Feb 2012 20:57 #204007 by Plinko
Replied by Plinko on topic Re: NWAC Forecast Discrepancies

This ESPN article, Stevens Pass avalanche kills three , interviews  Megan Michelson and Elyse Saugstad who were skiing with the group and has the most details I've seen on the accident.

Super sad day.


Matt,

Thanks for the link to that info.

In the article it states, "The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center rated the avalanche danger as "High" on Sunday morning for elevations 5,000 feet and above and warned of "widespread natural and triggered soft and wind slab avalanches" for the area around Stevens Pass, due to heavy snowfall and and strong winds. Stevens Pass ski area's base elevation is 4,061 feet and the summit elevation is 5,845 feet." 

This is a comment I've heard echoed in much of the mainstream news reports.  When they (and I) check the NWAC forecast in the morning before a trip, it's still the forecast from the day prior, and in this case, very different from the revised forecast that finally came out later in the day.  I fully believe the good folks who compile the daily data on NWAC's behalf work hard and do an excellent job and I'm not in any way maligning their hard work.  The timing, however, seems to present an issue since most people who relying on the forecast have already walked out the door with a day-old forecast and are in the heat of the fire by the time the updates are posted.  Is there any way around this?  Apologies if this is inappropriate time/place give the circumstances.

This is very somber news to say the least.  Prayers for all involved.

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  • stoudema
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19 Feb 2012 19:42 #204008 by stoudema
Very sad news indeed. Prayers and thoughts out to the victim's friends and families....rest in peace.

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19 Feb 2012 19:45 #204009 by haggis
Besides your own observations you could check the smart phone for updates but unlikely once you are in the field that this is going to happen. Maybe a NWAC newsflash if you sign up for WARNINGs and it texts to your phone might work also assuming cell coverage.

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  • Team Wally
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19 Feb 2012 19:46 #204010 by Team Wally
So sad. These guys were true ski professionals who knew every nook and cranny of Stevens and literally hundreds of areas around the world. Unfortunately the mountains are unforgiving. They were leaders who spent a lifetime giving back to the sport they loved. Thoughts and prayers. Jim's Levenworth promo
Attachments:

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19 Feb 2012 19:56 #204011 by E_N
Looks like names are being released for the Steven's incident, though I'm not sure if it's official at this point so I won't write them here. They are posted on Steve Romeo's tetonat blog.

Sad day.

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19 Feb 2012 20:16 #204012 by z-bo
Replied by z-bo on topic Re: NWAC Forecast Discrepancies

Matt,

Thanks for the link to that info.

In the article it states, "The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center rated the avalanche danger as "High" on Sunday morning for elevations 5,000 feet and above and warned of "widespread natural and triggered soft and wind slab avalanches" for the area around Stevens Pass, due to heavy snowfall and and strong winds. Stevens Pass ski area's base elevation is 4,061 feet and the summit elevation is 5,845 feet." 

This is a comment I've heard echoed in much of the mainstream news reports.  When they (and I) check the NWAC forecast in the morning before a trip, it's still the forecast from the day prior, and in this case, very different from the revised forecast that finally came out later in the day.  I fully believe the good folks who compile the daily data on NWAC's behalf work hard and do an excellent job and I'm not in any way maligning their hard work.  The timing, however, seems to present an issue since most people relying on the forecast have already walked out the door with a day-old forecast and are in the heat of the fire by the time the updates are posted.  Is there any way around this?  Apologies if this is inappropriate time/place give the circumstances.

This is very somber news to say the least.  Prayers for all involved.


i find this more inappropriate than releasing the names. these guys were more than capable of making their own avalanche decisions. With or without an avalanche report that probably isn't specific to Stevens pass. Lets keep the armchair forecasting to its own thread.

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19 Feb 2012 21:40 - 21 Feb 2012 12:33 #204015 by fwb
On Scott -He's fine.

On the others.  Saturday eve I made a snow check when I left work.  I bailed on BC and returned for a morning of resort turns.  Trashed from very little sleep all week I was up for only a short day. I the typical early lineup wait I ran into "everybody" in the morning.  Was happy for known faces and ski buddies to tag morning runs with. 

After the incident several out of bounds exit points were closed (and manned).  Rumors had avys also in other areas too. Patrol said a slide in Highland bowl, but didn't know anything else. Now maybe I see they just closed any exiting to the side/slack country?

I heard a few hours ago the names of those trapped on the radio (6:20pm).  It has taken a little bit for the shock to set in.  It was so different when it was just some anonymous skiers.  Now it’s hitting hard when people I’ve skied with and know.  I’d expected a bunch of the typical yahoos you see hiking out of bounds…  Not so.

...still processing it all. 

I'm glad to have had the moments skiing good times with them.  And a sorrow to have turns only in memories.  RIP guys, you are missed

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  • lrudholm
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19 Feb 2012 21:50 #204017 by lrudholm
Thanks fwb.... just heard from Ben... sounds like they are all good.


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  • andybrnr
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19 Feb 2012 22:52 #204018 by andybrnr
Was up at Stevens both yesterday and today. Hiking out the ridge yesterday towards highland bowl, there were strongly wind affected pockets with shooting cracks just out of the boot pack, but aside from easily propagated top inches of surface sluff, bulk of the snow in trees felt good on SE aspect. Caught up with snoholic and TBill towards the end of today, and they reported seeing a crown all the way across the top of Highland Bowl... second hand, I heard one person was caught but self extracted. The 'High' avy rating seems pretty much right on for open terrain at the moment.

Will be interesting to see how the WX this week evolves... the rain event for Tuesday will trigger pretty much anything that hasn't gone under 6k ft, I think, and everything above is going to get such a massive load placed on it (UW WRF-GFS 12km run is putting another 32" of dense snow on top of stuff above 7k-ish) that it'll likely make everything that didn't get rained on go. The 24hrs from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon is looking like a good time to be anywhere but avy terrain. On the up side, precip with falling freezing levels Wednesday afternoon/night will hopefully yield a consolidated snowpack with the new stuff well bonded and right side up... here's hoping, anyhow.

Thoughts and prayers with the families of those who lost loved ones today.

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  • Jason_H.
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20 Feb 2012 08:39 #204019 by Jason_H.
So sad to hear that 4 of our commuity left us yesterday. From images and what I've heard of them from those I know, they touched many lives and were wonderful people. RIP and my heart goes out to family and friends.

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  • Lowell_Skoog
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20 Feb 2012 09:22 #204021 by Lowell_Skoog
Replied by Lowell_Skoog on topic Re: Avalanches Kill 3 at Stevens Pass, 1 at Alpental
Condolences to the families and friends of those who were lost yesterday.

I didn't know the victims, but I've been staggered by the scope of this tragedy. I've been trying to process it mentally. I reviewed my notes about avalanche accidents in the Northwest through 2011:

alpenglow.org/ski-history/notes/book/logan-1996.html
alpenglow.org/ski-history/notes/web/www-avalanche-org.html

Losing more than one member of the skiing and snowboarding community in single day is a horrible shock. It has only happened twice before. In 1999, one snowboarder and one skier were lost in the huge Rumble Gully avalanche just outside the Mt Baker ski area. In 2007, three snowboarders were buried at their emergency bivouac in Union Creek near Crystal Mountain. Yesterday, we lost three at Stevens Pass in a single avalanche and another at Alpental in a separate accident. It was deadliest day for avalanches involving skiers and snowboarders in the history of Washington state.

There have been even worse days in history, but they involved climbing parties. Fatal accidents involving multiple skiers are extremely rare in this state. I think that's why this event seems so overwhelming.

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20 Feb 2012 09:40 - 20 Feb 2012 10:03 #204022 by ryanl
Like Lowell, I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the magnitude of grief created this weekend. To the friends and family members of those involved, I wish you support, strength, and love in the weeks and months to come. To those that died, R.I.P- you will be missed but never forgotten. 

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  • snoholic
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20 Feb 2012 09:50 - 20 Feb 2012 14:29 #204013 by snoholic
Condolences to all family and Friends of the victims. What a sad and painfull day in the Cascades.  I have been skiing in the Stevens sidecountry the last few days and ran into the group of visiting skiers and their local friends and guides on a few occasions.  They were all smiles out there enjoying the incredible gift we received.  Sunday Morning, we were on top of Cowboy ridge at about 11 am discussing if we should drop into the Glory bowls, or not.  Logistics and fate sent us the opposite way.  Ended up skinning up to lake Josephine and on to the Fleur de lis shot where we had a birds eye view of Highland bowl.  It also went big, The crown started near the first clearing you would get to as you traverse into the area from Stevens and ran all the way around to where the convex rollovers are. Basically the entire bowl area. Guessing 300-400+ meter wide crown. Crown seemed to be about  24" deep or so, and about 100'  below the ridgeline but was hard to tell from the distance we we at. Did not see any damage to the trees below so I'm guessing it stop fairly quickly in the basin below the bowl. Only had a phone camera, so I could not get any picts at the distance we were from it.  After all the years of skiing that bowl I had never imagined that it could go like that.  Hard to digest all the events happened yesterday.

Zack

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