Forty-seven years ago today a remarkable story of avalanche survival occurred in Scotland’s Cairngorm mountains. Though the story did not end well for two hikers, one man survived a 22-hour burial. Yes, 22 hours under the snow. Continue reading
Part 2. Dealing with wet snow
Roller balls trigger small wet-loose snow avalanches Coal Bank Pass, Colorado (Photo, Atkins)
Compared to recreational adventurers, rescuers loose flexibility on when and where they must go. While avalanches are always formidable foes for rescuers, wet avalanches – as I wrote a couple of weeks ago – are like an angry swarm of African honey bees. Both angry bees and wet avalanches just keep attacking. I suspect that many folks including rescuers and avalanche professionals misjudge wet avalanches. Rescuers armed with misconstrued confidence could be walking into a dangerous trap. Continue reading
In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. ~Mark Twain
Spring also means a whole lot of changes for the snow and avalanche conditions, and spring can be a most dangerous time rescuers. Last Friday there was an avalanche accident off-piste at Val d’Isère, France, which resulted in a serious and risky rescue. Fortunately the knowledge, skill, and professionalism (and probably some luck, too) of the ski patrollers saved the skier’s life. Part 1 of this two-part series focuses on the differences of wet and dry avalanches and what this means to rescuers. Part 2 will suggest how rescuers should adapt their strategies to deal with wet avalanches. Continue reading
“I’ve been here since 1954 and I have to frankly say this is the harshest, toughest winter that I have ever had up here,” said Norm Sayler, 78, president of the Donner Summit Historical Society. Through Monday, the California statewide snow water equivalent was at 165% of normal. In a state that measures snow fall in feet this winter has truly been exceptional. So let me share some different perspectives about what a lot of snow means. Continue reading
There are several dimensions of luck, and the diametrical differences can perhaps be best contrasted by the timeless words uttered by a fictitious police inspector and a 1st century (and very real) Roman philosopher. Oddly enough, both messages apply to our reasoning with avalanches.
“…you’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well do ya, punk?”
— “Dirty” Harry Callahan
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
By: Doug Chabot, guest writer
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.
—Vernon Sanders Law
Tyler Stetson died in an avalanche on January 20th  while skiing with his close friend, Logan King, in Beehive Basin, a popular spot to tour, make turns and enjoy the Montana backcountry. They weren’t alone that day; many people were tasting the powder, but things went terribly wrong. Continue reading
January and for most of February the weather in the Alps had been dry, dry, and dry. (At least until the last couple of weeks) So climbers and riders including Xavier de le Rue got after it. As a prelude to your weekend fun, check out Rue’s recent video.
It will leave you breathless. Have a great weekend!