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White Mountain, SW, 12,400, 14:30
6 Skiers/No burials
Six backcountry skiers were involved in the avalanche on White Mountain on 02/09/08. The skiers were making their way back to the Snodgrass TH from Gothic via White Mountain. Prior to leaving the Hut, they had assessed snow stability as Good below treeline and Poor at and above treeline, and had called the avalanche hotline to get the CBAC's forecast which called for considerable hazard on all aspects and elevations. On the ascent up to pt. 11498 they were no signs of instabilities. Continuing above treeline on a SW aspect the snow was supportable and began to warm up. At 11,700, there was a shooting
crack in a small crossloaded pocket on a SW slope around 36 degrees.
The crack proagated for 20 feet and nothing moved. Continuing up the ridge there were no other signs of instabilities but there were many naturals on various aspects and lots of evidence of windloading.
The group decided to ski a low-angle (25 degrees) rib that split two large SW facing bowls on the northern ridge of White Mountain. The snow on the rib was stiff and supportive but as they made their way down the rib it appeared there was a much deeper windslab than anticipated. They skied one at a time from safe zone to safe zone. At 11,650 the slope angle increased to 30 degrees and the snow changed from supportable windslap to punchy (ski pen ~50cm) soft snow. The fourth skier remote triggered the slide as he was skiing 3 feet left
of the left most track. The crown broke 50 feet uphill of him and propagated up to the top of the southern bowl. The southern bowl ripped down and presumably undercut the northern bowl which slid second. The remaining two skiers skied down to regroup and the six skiers skied down the debris and out to the East River Valley.
Crown depths varied from 5-10 feet. The slide ran 2000 vertical and debris travelled 1 mile from starting zone to its terminus on the flats. Both slides went wall to wall and from map/photo comparisons ran approx. 1500 feet wide in the north bowl and 500 feet wide in the south bowl.
with this being America I suppose the ski patrol take the blame for not making the mountain safe and allowing people to ski the line?