First let me start off by saying this is not directly ski related, we were snowmobiling when this happed, but skiers get in the same situations so i hope people learn from this....
Yesterday, (Sunday) my friends and i went out riding for the last day of the year near West Jellystone, reall hot day, not many other people, but a few.Long sotry short we make it to a bowl type area with good highmarking. After doing a couple pits we decided to not climb, but take a break and eat and have a beer. While we were eating another group comes up (2 guys one girl). After talking we can see them eyeing a nice untracked headwall. My friends and i step in saying we did tests and they didnt seem to promising. They kindly say OK but this is the end of the season, and slides are rare when its this hot.
At this point something inside me goes off, but to not start trouble i just say fine your call. This is where the story gets crazy. One guy goes right for the face he was pointing at earlier, at the apex of his mark, the entire face breaks off, and a thunderou sound roars throughout the bowl. He immideatley trys to straighten the sled out but its to late and he is engulfed in chunks bigger than his machine. This all seemed to go in slowmo, and i was so devastated i couldnt move at first. The slide begins to settle at the bottom, and while i did my best to keep my eye on him i lost it about 3/4 the way down.
Now everyone rushes over to the slide. His friend and girlfriend (later found out) get out thier transievers at the bottom of the sldie and frantically fumble them. While this is happening im looking around to see what the possibilty of another slide was. Even though another slide was very possible, i couldnt ust leave the guy under, so under bad judgment my friends and i go in. We start a systimatical search from last seen point (while yeelling for the other guy and girl to get out of the way and turn thiers off). After what seemed like an hour we locate him to a good 5 foot range.
Then the digging begins. I have never had a rush of adrenaline quite like this, and it was like trying to dig through cement. A plastic shovel would have been absolutley usleless. METAL SHOVELS NO EXCEPTION. everyone rotoated in and out and dug like a motherfucker. (except said girl, she was crying on the side). Although we know to dig a coffin sized hole it gets smaller and smaller, finally my buddy strikes his boot. This was one of the worst feelings in the world, we were so close yet so far away. We finally got enough of him out to yank him from the snow. Amazingly, he was just a little sshaken up and extremely cold. At this point we make a fire and get the guy warmed up, he later doe out with a friend as his sled was snowehre to be found....
I just want peple to know, YOU MUST KNOW YOUR BEACON! in a time like this everything wizzed by and your adrenaline is pumping. People freak out and its easy to lose focus. Also, have self control. I got LUCKY another slide didnt trigger, we all risked our lives but its a very difficult desicion. the avalanche saftey course my riding buddys and i took was one of the best decisions of my life.
And finally, never assume. We made the call not to ride it, they didnt. I feel pretty comfortable saying id we went there all of them could have been dead.
Damn dude, You guys are lucky. Good thing they had their beacons, it seems like sledders usually dont have them. We skied Jewel Basin last weekend (northern Montana) and it was full of avalanche activity.
for sure, everyone assumes that a wet snowpack is a safe snowpack. kudos to you guys for knowing what you were doing and making a good call. Hopefully he learns from his lesson, and a bunch of people here do too.
++++ karma for saving that dudes life! this story puts things into perspective, because that just as easily could have been anybody on NS, or any skeir. good thing for me, is the east doesnt get enough snow for avalanches haha
I Ski Attitash And Cranmore
"When people say you have a one track mind, tell them they're only half right. Skiing leaves 2 tracks!" - Seth Morrison
Scary as fuck. Props on keeping cool and saving someones life, you are the type of person i'd like to have as a touring partner. How long had it been warm for there? I cant imagine it had just heated up all of a sudden, but that makes more sense for it sliding.
Also, what exactly were your observations that steered you away from highmarking that spot? That is a scary looking slab...
Way to be on top of it, make good decisions, and take the time to learn before going into the BC. You are the sort of person who deserves to be out there, and the sort of person that other BC users want as you are not only cautious about your own life, but that of others.
It is super important to remember, and this is a great reminder, that when in the BC others lives can be endangered by what you do, and when you receive advice from others, give it a good deal of consideration.
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The White Room Mountain Shop
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Hopefully the other group learned from this too. I think it's one thing to hear about it all the time, but once you see an actual avalanche your perspective changes. (not that I've seen one, but this report did open my eyes a little more despite the many many stories I've read on NS and TGR.) Stay safe, + karma and good job.
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