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At approximately 2:20pm, while traversing into Palisades Bowl via the “low track”, I came around a tree and skied directly into the stauchwall of what appeared to be an R4, D2/3 slide. A quick scan of the event area revealed shallowly buried rocks which acted as trigger points and air pockets where heavy windloading had occurred along a 80 ft x 15 ft band of rocks, which acted as the left flank of the slab.
This had been my fifth or sixth lap on this slope and snow safety/ avy control work had been completed earlier in the day. I had dug a few hand (hasty) pits here throughout the day and also had not noted any cracking or whoomping of the snowpack in this area.
Having been making quick laps and knowing there were a few other skiers in the immediate area, my best estimate was that this slide occurred somewhere between 20 seconds and 2 minutes prior to my arrival on the scene. Beginning at the stauchwall and working in a zig zag fashion, I initiated a beacon search of the deposition which returned no signals. I spot probed in front of 20 or so trees along the way, working pretty thoroughly but quickly to the bottom of the deposition. The avalanche path was pretty poorly defined, and I don’t know this to be an area that slides frequently. I suspect the unusual SSW windloading that occurred previous to this event went unnoticed as a red flag. Approximately 30 seconds after initiating my search, another party of three (all equipped with avy gear) assisted in the beacon search. They radioed for patrol at 2:28 and a handful of patrollers and a few employees arrived within two or three minutes.
As I got to the bottom of the deposition I realized the slide was much bigger than I originally estimated from standing at the top. The approximate width of the deposition was 50m and probably close to 125m in length. Knowing a probe line would have to be assembled, I started working my way (sidestepping) up the left edge of the deposition back to the top knowing that probing downhill would be much more efficient than trying to work back up in waist deep snow. By the time I got back to the top of the deposition, approximately 15 people were on scene and patrol had arrived with extra bags of shovels and probes. We proceeded to work a probe line down from the top and as more skiers slowly came, there was a patrolman organizing a probe line working from the bottom up as well. In 30 or so minutes, approximately 15 Kirkwood patrollers and employees and 25 volunteers were coarse probing the deposition working towards each other. Avalanche dog handlers (3, I think) arrived approximately 20-25 minutes thereafter with the RECCO bag and also found no signs of victims.
After probing the entire slide area no gear or victims were found, and the search was called off at 5:35 pm.
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