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Author Topic: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.  (Read 5100 times)

xcrag_corex

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2013, 11:32:12 PM »

C'mon guys....its only a small east coast mountain ::)

the leaders preemptive report is a little smug i'd say.
dudes are just flat out lucky it wasn't worse....
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JakeDatc

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2013, 11:39:51 PM »

I have a question that is being discussed a bit on Views from the top..    how sketchy is 2 Moderate   avy risk?    i am not an ice climber so i have no idea if these guys were being unreasonable or not.   would most go?  some go?
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DanRudmin

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2013, 12:35:06 AM »

I'm no expert on avalanches or Mt Washington, but we were up at the cabin with them and in the ravine that day. I can add a few more points of info:

I think they were only 11 at the time of the accident. A NH climber with them turned back at the bottom of the ravine. But he was from the local paper tagging along so maybe not part of the original count.

Also the Harvard Cabin custodian was planning a trip to town that day before the long weekend, but he was sticking around because he was worried about the film team having an accident in the ravine.

Even without an avalanche it would have sucked to climb to the summit after dark that night. Most of the alpine garden was iced up from the melt and it was 0 F down in North Conway. The summit must have been brutal. We were pretty cold before we bailed on Pinnacle during the morning while constantly moving.



« Last Edit: January 20, 2013, 01:20:47 AM by DanRudmin »
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slevasse

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2013, 03:48:57 PM »

I have a question that is being discussed a bit on Views from the top..    how sketchy is 2 Moderate   avy risk?    i am not an ice climber so i have no idea if these guys were being unreasonable or not.   would most go?  some go?

Like fat city I would go up and take a look.  Unfortunately, that rating was given at 8 in the morning.  They were saying they got nailed before the actual 5:30 incident time on FB.  So even if you say they got hit at 3:30 or 4, that is roughly 8 hours of snow and wind blowing into the ravines.  The avy forecast while still definitely something to consider would have been likely way under estimated at that point. 
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JakeDatc

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2013, 04:53:33 PM »

Yea..  you'd think that with that big of a group with such high profile attention they would be at least checking along the way... 3 might have been hurt but 6 others got really lucky... could have been an even bigger shit show. 
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DLottmann

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2013, 07:32:08 PM »

I have a question that is being discussed a bit on Views from the top..    how sketchy is 2 Moderate   avy risk?    i am not an ice climber so i have no idea if these guys were being unreasonable or not.   would most go?  some go?

This is a tough question to answer directly, as there are many shades of “Moderate”. The details are in the actual forecast discussion and require some careful reading/interpreting...

During “Moderate” conditions the likely-hood of a natural avalanche is unlikely, but a human triggered slide is “possible”.

What that means is you need to know;

1) Where avalanches start, slope angles, start zones, trigger points like convexities, etc.

2) What conditions could be making it worse: more loading from snow or blowing snow, etc

Most avalanche accidents happen during Moderate and Considerable Ratings... people usually get the idea if it is rated High/Extreme.

The real answer to the question lies within the forecast discussion which helps identify what the “problem” is that day, where the problem might be, and where you should probably avoid (or go). Historically, in the East, we have a high rate of accomplished ice climbers with little to no avalanche training other than what they may have read in a book. Ice climbers need to catch up to back-country skiers in taking avalanche terrain more seriously and not just looking at the Low/Moderate/Considerable rating and basing all their choices on that.

For another way to look at this specific group, if you only focus on “human triggered possible”... this was “human triggered possible times 12”... not good odds even without reading the details...

We have just added a few more AIARE 1 courses and been able to increase our class size with some new instructors on-board. Next few weekends the courses are sold out but there are spots left in March. If interested please go here:

http://www.emsexploration.com/ski/aiare-1/
« Last Edit: January 20, 2013, 07:40:41 PM by DMan »
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DLottmann

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2013, 10:36:04 AM »

There is much there I would debate but I’ll stick to the biggest comment I have issue with:

"And although our route was on the lee side, high winds overhead deposited more snow up high, near the terminus of the route. The accumulation of these conditions could not be predicted before climb. By the time we met those conditions, a return descent would have been as dangerous as continuing upward, and therefore out of the question.”

This statement is evidence of a lack of avalanche education. The lee side is always more dangerous when blowing snow is around, but the wording “although” used in the first sentence implies he felt it was somehow safer.

“Could not be predicted”. It was clearly predicted in the bulletin. From the bulletin that day:

"In Huntington you should find a tremendous amount of spatial variability within each gully.  The recent thaw turned several gullies into shoe string ribbons going up the Ravine.  Therefore, it won’t take a lot of snow to generate pockets that are wall to wall in multiple pinch points that will be difficult to avoid.  <especially for 12 people> So prepare to be on hard icy surfaces one minute and into new slab the next.  Expect all snow that is not the old concrete from the recent warm up to be harboring weak layers and varying degrees of instability.  Also anticipate bonding at the interface between the icy surfaces and the new low density slabs to be poor.  With increasing winds and more snow today I would also be ready for new crystals to become beat up and fragmented packing into denser slabs over pockets of unconsolidated snow that were deposited yesterday. Due to the slick nature of the old bed surfaces you can expect frequent spindrift sluffing again today perhaps build into slabs on mid-slope benches such as in Odell, Pinnacle and Central.   Because of all this you will probably find some slopes on the upper end of the Moderate rating in several locales in the Huntington gullies."

If under Moderate conditions the likelihood of one human triggering an avalanche is “possible”, now times that likelihood by 12. Add the current worsening conditions during the climb, and "a return descent would have been as dangerous as continuing upward, and therefore out of the question” also indicates a mis-understanding of where and what the danger was.

This was an isolated wind slab near the top of Central that needed a human trigger... it was quite unlikely that it would have reached a load on it’s own to cause failure, so descending would have been prudent.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2013, 10:41:25 AM by DMan »
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DanRudmin

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2013, 11:25:51 AM »

Quote
We knew before departure that we would be finishing our climb in the dark.
This sounds crazy.
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DLottmann

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2013, 11:50:47 AM »

Quote
We knew before departure that we would be finishing our climb in the dark.
This sounds crazy.

Not so much IMO, given the fact Rainier was a 19 hour climb for Keith and Andy. They knew Keith would move slow and were prepared for that. However they have said they were 1 hour from the top when the accident happened, and based on it taking 4 hours to get from Harvard Cabin to Central I would say they were still at least 4 hours from summiting.
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neiceclimber

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2013, 02:18:39 PM »

What I find odd is once they committed to going forward due to the worsening conditions why did they continue to climb on top of each other. While Central is a pretty straight chute, there are small alcoves, cracks for gear, and areas that are more protected than others, more so the higher you go if memory serves me correct.

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DLottmann

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2013, 02:50:27 PM »

When it is fuller there are more places to stay out of the fall line...

"The recent thaw turned several gullies into shoe string ribbons going up the Ravine."- bulletin that day

Pretty hard not to be over/under each other in these conditions...
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DanRudmin

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xcrag_corex

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2013, 11:58:13 PM »

I have a question that is being discussed a bit on Views from the top..    how sketchy is 2 Moderate   avy risk?    i am not an ice climber so i have no idea if these guys were being unreasonable or not.   would most go?  some go?

Like fat city I would go up and take a look.  Unfortunately, that rating was given at 8 in the morning.  They were saying they got nailed before the actual 5:30 incident time on FB.  So even if you say they got hit at 3:30 or 4, that is roughly 8 hours of snow and wind blowing into the ravines.  The avy forecast while still definitely something to consider would have been likely way under estimated at that point.
....and if i remember correctly from my AIARE class....It is also a FORCAST.... its takes the findings of the previous day and makes a prediction of conditions due to precip, wind, and temps since their last findings. so its way more than 8 hours. The best thing some one can do is take an Avy course and make sound educated judgements.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 11:56:00 AM by xcrag_corex »
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om

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Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
« Reply #29 on: January 22, 2013, 12:47:41 AM »

Not so much IMO, given the fact Rainier was a 19 hour climb for Keith and Andy. They knew Keith would move slow and were prepared for that. However they have said they were 1 hour from the top when the accident happened, and based on it taking 4 hours to get from Harvard Cabin to Central I would say they were still at least 4 hours from summiting.

Hm, we also had an exactly 19-hours day on Rainier (different route perhaps), i don't see a problem with that. If you know you have a long day in front of you shouldn't you start a bit earlier? That was at least not a variable...
4 hours to summit after 10 hours of work and in 50mi/h winds is... optimistic. It was not looking good one way or another. Perhaps they were thinking they would get picked up from the road in the worst case...

Feel bad for people who knew better but still went, we all been there.
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