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View Full Version : Hikers Ride Avy down Mt. Washington



kevinmac
04-14-2009, 12:18 PM
http://www.wmur.com/news/19175517/detail.html?treets=man&tml=man_12pm&ts=T&tmi=man_12pm_1_11000104142009

http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/04/a_massachusetts.html


Accident report from Tuckerman.org:

http://www.tuckerman.org/accident/20082009.htm

carole
04-14-2009, 02:05 PM
Amazing story!

Jason Berard
04-14-2009, 03:01 PM
I hope they both bought lottery tickets when they got down!:eek:

I'm glad they're both OK.

gram
04-14-2009, 04:47 PM
http://www.tuckerman.org/photos/tucks/

Scroll down thru the pics to 4-10-09 and take a look at the picture with the red annotations. They were so lucky!

arm
04-14-2009, 04:54 PM
friggin' butt-sliders ... they ruin the trail for everyone :D

glad they're alright ... lucky !

giggy
04-14-2009, 06:23 PM
yea - can happen to anyone really. this was a situation where they did everything right. Really - climbing conditions don't get much better, cool but not cold and not too warm, great snow, great hero ice...

leaf
04-14-2009, 06:37 PM
thought i heard it while we were up there. checked the time it happened in the article, and yep.. i did hear it as were were halfway up the gully.

conditions were definitely ideal up there. crazy.

Dr. Dasypodidae
04-14-2009, 06:38 PM
this was a situation where they did everything right.

I might not go that far, as they did not recognize the isolated pocket of avy instability until it was too late. Lucky indeed.

Nice analysis by Jeff Lane and fellow USFS snow rangers.

Barkingcat
04-14-2009, 08:00 PM
friggin' butt-sliders ... they ruin the trail for everyone :D

glad they're alright ... lucky !

Yes -- an 800-foot glissade.

JohnL
04-15-2009, 07:23 AM
I might not go that far, as they did not recognize the isolated pocket of avy instability until it was too late. Lucky indeed.

Nice analysis by Jeff Lane and fellow USFS snow rangers.

You could say they did everything right after they did everything wrong. ;)

JohnL

hikes-with-him
04-15-2009, 08:43 AM
I think that this also goes to show how you have to be very careful when hiking/climbing...and not be totally reliant on what the "forecasts" say...

The avalance forceast was "low" and the weather forcast was favorable for this "low" avalance forecast.

I am not, in any way, putting them as having done anything right or wrong (as a novice winter hiker and NON climber, I have nothing to say in this)...just thought that this situation made a point...

VERY glad they are ok.

Bob
04-15-2009, 10:33 AM
I hope there were no children in The Ravine at the time.

cushetunk
04-15-2009, 03:48 PM
I've been trying to decide if I'm agreeing with Giggy or Dr Daisypodidae. Maybe other avy-savvy folks can offer input on my thoughts.

First, I don't think you can just rule out travelling up any gully with pockets of new surface on a springtime, low avalanche rating day -- but maybe I'm wrong in this. The climbers probably could have seen the new snow before they reached it, but not necessarily have known how deep it was or how well bonded.

At this point would the "no mistakes" course of action be: turn around? move off to the side away from new surface (what if you can't easily avoid it)? Unless there was a protected spot, I don't know how you're going to assess bonding. And if I reached the base of the slab and found what they found, I'd have done what they started doing... getting out of the way.

Am I missing some other consideration in thinking about this?

Dr. Dasypodidae
04-15-2009, 04:01 PM
I've been trying to decide if I'm agreeing with Giggy or Dr Daisypodidae. Maybe other avy-savvy folks can offer input on my thoughts.

First, I don't think you can just rule out travelling up any gully with pockets of new surface on a springtime, low avalanche rating day -- but maybe I'm wrong in this. The climbers probably could have seen the new snow before they reached it, but not necessarily have known how deep it was or how well bonded.
At this point would the "no mistakes" course of action be: turn around? move off to the side away from new surface (what if you can't easily avoid it)? Unless there was a protected spot, I don't know how you're going to assess bonding. And if I reached the base of the slab and found what they found, I'd have done what they started doing... getting out of the way.

Am I missing some other consideration in thinking about this?

No, I do not think that you are missing any considerations here (I boldfaced your key phrase). My point was simply that they needed to make the right decision at the moment that they encountered the unbonded slab, which they were not able to do. I agree that they did everything right once they realized that they were in danger, but it was too late. I also agree that bad luck can happen to anyone, anywhere. And, I agree that there was no way that snow rangers on the floor of the ravine could have predicted a small area of unbonded slab in one gully, hence their "low" avy forecast. Moreover, north-facing gullies and slopes are notoriously difficult to assess, especially from below, as Jeff Lane details in his excellent analysis.

kevinmac
04-15-2009, 04:10 PM
Happy to see that both individuals made it out alive with relatively minor injuries.

skiguy
04-15-2009, 04:31 PM
And, I agree that there was no way that snow rangers on the floor of the ravine could have predicted a small area of unbonded slab in one gully, hence their "low" avy forecast.

Low as the Rangers stated doesnot mean NO avys. Also the incident happened in an area they donot forecast;therefore the climbers were on their own as far as making their own forecast. It seems as though they made the right decisions and were attempting to get out of the way. Wether they could have seen the hazard earlier/lower in the gully and retreated is something we don't know because none of us were there. Although history has shown time and again that the top of Dodge's can load in.

giggy
04-15-2009, 07:10 PM
I am not a avy expert by any means and have had some close calls and probably been a few places I should not have at times.. but you don't expect any avy activity on a day like sat. Thats not to say it won't happen (obviously), but its a favorable risk/benefit profile IMO. If you see an isolated pocket, hopefully you can deal with it.

My point was - it wasn't a bad idea to head up a gully on a day where both ravines were rated low across the board. They hit an isolated pocket - and "stuff happens". This is not a case where things were rated considerable or high and they went up the gully with no beacon, probe, etc..

Most of us here are amatuers, we try and learn as best we can how to judge this stuff and we climb these gullies always knowing there is always the risk this will happen. This isn't golf or the company softball league... :)

I have mentioned this before, but IMO, the ravines are never 100% safe. Sometimes things are locked up tight, but its minus 30 - your risking forstbite, some days its nice and warm and sunny and your risking falling stuff or avy, etc.. you do the best you can to minizime the risk and thats different for people.

For example, boot spur #3 is an "easy" gully. Probably rated WI2 due to ice bulges - other than that probably WI1 Those that climbed this with me on sat - we could have easily soloed this, but we decided to protect it with pickets due to boilerplate. Thats an individual call depending on your risk threshold , skills, etc..

I am no expert with this stuff, just a dood that does this on weekends, but thats my perspective.

I agree with dr d, skiguy, etc..

Woody
04-15-2009, 09:14 PM
On a nice spring day with posted Low Avy conditions I would not have hesitated to head into the ravine on a day like that. In fact if it was not Easter weekend and my wife wanted me to stay home, I would have been up there myself. I'll have to thank her for that!
Variability Happens! (variable snowpack)

While climbing in Cinema Gully a couple of seasons ago, with my son, I started a couple of small slides. Fortunately without consequence, but still it put a shiver up my back.:eek:

cbcbd
04-15-2009, 10:40 PM
They are lucky and I'm glad they are ok. They lived to learn.

I know it's hard to motivate to be in an avy mindset during a nice spring day with posted low danger in other areas (I probably would've done the same), and I'm not condemning anything they did, but IMO, for discussion purposes one could say that if they wanted to be thorough and avy safer they could've:

-traveled staggered, with no one person standing under another's avy path and traveling from protected position to protected position.

-used a rope with running protection - although only effective if the pro was good

-had beacon, probe, shovel

-chosen a different route with better aspect


Nevertheless, I bet they'll be taking an Avy course soon, if they haven't taken one yet. I did after I set off my first slab avy :rolleyes:

The Lisa
04-15-2009, 10:56 PM
Good points, CBCD. With two people though isn't is hard to call whether to place running pro or not? No doubt it has been discussed ad infinitum here and elsewhere, when to place pro and when to say 'everyone for themselves' when it is two involved. Much as I like the (potenitally lethal) security of running pro I would hate to drag the other down with me.
I get the impression from other Tux frequenters that in spring the likelihood of being buried in an avy is little to none as there is not enough snow volume to bury you, just enough to knock you off your feet and carry you down. This depends on the recent snowfall/windloading, of course.
However, this week in particular, any slides are not going to be deep enough to bury you which is a happy condition for those two guys. EVen so, this weekend I am still going to bring the beacon/probe/shovel with me as force of habit.

cbcbd
04-16-2009, 01:08 PM
With two people though isn't is hard to call whether to place running pro or not? ...
You're right, for simul climbing with running pro you have to trust that most times your partner isn't going to fall during those sections without pro.
I probably wouldn't have done any of those things on a spring day like that so I would've probably have slid too (although probably on skis). I figured I'd just mention things that could've been done if wanting to really minimize risk.
There is no one answer, their situation was unique and they were very lucky.

pedxing
04-16-2009, 08:15 PM
This story has a number of the climbers' pics before and after the avalanche..

http://www.gnn.com/article/climbers-survive-new-england-avalanche/431206

Dr. Dasypodidae
04-16-2009, 09:31 PM
This story has a number of the climbers' pics before and after the avalanche..

http://www.gnn.com/article/climbers-survive-new-england-avalanche/431206

Thanks for posting link to these photos, as until now I thought both were wearing helmets, which I had assumed saved their lives. But, does not appear that they were, so all the more amazing that they survived. Hope that they bought some lottery tickets on their way home. Good humble attitude in their comments and captions on photos, I think.