I found, triggered, and was carried by an easter-egg avalanche that is hard to find, but nasty when you do. This was not discussed in the avalanche bulletin and can't be hinted at in pit tests. My avalanche was on 1-1/2" wind deposited snow over yesterday's surface hoar crystals. Here is the current surface condition which has been disturbed by wind in some spots, and covered by wind deposited snow it some spots. A tricky trap!
It was shallow, small, isolated, and could have killed me. Or killed my partner. Dumb luck saved us both. Here is how the slope looked when she skied it:
This spot is locally know as the fifth thumb above Lake Clara. The rock feature just in front of Ali's tips was critical in preventing greater consequence for me. Once triggered, the avalanche wanted to funnel me through the rocks fall-line below Ali in the photo. I was able to maneuver skier's left such that I hit the rock and was not carried downhill through the cliffs and trees below. PHEW! Ali turned left below the terrain turn, had she turned right my slough would have hit and carried her through the trees.
The crown was about 1.5"
But it stepped down into recent storm layers about 6" total thickness and I THINK it also may have collapsed one of the buried crust sandwiches at the horizontal line seen shooting left off the intersection of my ski tip and the avalanche sidewall in the photo above.
Every time I get to see an avalanche I end up regretting not spending more time investigating. This time was no different. After extricating myself from an armpit deep burial I booted up to look at that crack and really wanted to dig a profile across it, but I was too shaken and so I didn't. I think a lower layer collapsed but didn't propagate. It looked to me like that crack was about an inch across and an inch vertical displacement.Here is a photo of the crack. Wish I'd looked directly down it!
I came back the next day to dig. I side-slip rapelled to the location and dug a significant pit to the ground (1.5m) but wind deposited snow had obscured the crack and I dug in the wrong spot (off by 2 feet by photo review later!)
There was a similar avalanche 100m south under the same rock feature that I suspect was triggered by what I suspect was a the deep collapse of my avalanche. There was next to no snow movement in the Clara basin over the last two weeks. The avalanche I described above, the one I think went sympathetically (photo below) and one we call "old faithfull" under Bomber cliffs that ran on both 12/31 and 1/10 (photo below below)
Old faithful 1/10/2021
Old Faithful 12/31/2020
Here is the rock that saved my life:
You might notice in the right top of the photo that there are a small group of people on the bench below. I think these were an avalanche class. What amazing luck for them. There is no activity in the Clara Basin at all for the entire season, and then a level II class comes up and witnesses the first and only skier triggered avalanche of the year! You are welcome, Nick Pope :)
It was fucking scary and I am embarrassed and shook. The last time I was involved in an avalanche accident was in 1997, roughly 1650 ski days ago. 1 in 1650 sounds pretty good, but I would sure rather it was 1 in "a number larger than the total ski days you've skied".
Here is where I found my pole, and where I may have been swept had I not hit that rock finger:
the next day, I dug across what I thought was the step down interface. At the ground I found wet soil and 3/4" crystals. WTF? Here is the ground interface: