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General => Epics and Accidents => Topic started by: Admin Al on January 17, 2013, 11:34:27 PM

Title: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on January 17, 2013, 11:34:27 PM
any details on this? the following was posted on FB by the Observatory:

"We understand that there has been an avalanche in Huntington Ravine, and that the US Forest Service Snow Rangers have been deployed to assess the area. Mount Washington Observatory has not been called upon in any capacity, so unfortunately we are unable to provide any further information at this time. We join with the rest of the White Mountains community in wishing our best to all those involved."
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: ELM on January 18, 2013, 06:53:47 AM
It was in Huntingtons : http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/20619196/2013/01/17/avalanche-reported-in-mt-washington-valley
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on January 18, 2013, 06:59:08 AM
Apparently it was in Huntington Ravine and involved the Ascent Of Honor party. 3 were apparently injured, including the retired Marine doing the climb for charity. I don't know yet what trail/ climb they were on. Reports are that a slab avalanche swept them a long ways. That's all I know right now.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on January 18, 2013, 08:50:00 AM
This is what Thom Pollard posted on FB about the incident:

"Update on our climb: Unfortunately our summit bid was unsuccessful. As we approached the top of Huntington Ravine, a slab avalanche broke loose and swept three of our climbers down to the bottom of the ravine. They were injured, but able to slowly make their way to rescuers, who assisted them off the mountain. The other nine climbers were able to descend and walk out
of the ravine on their own power. While this is certainly not the outcome we had hoped for, we are thankful that all in our party are safely off the mountain. We extend a heartfelt thanks to the US Forest Service and local Mountain Rescue Service personnel for their assistance, and look forward to sharing more details after we all get some rest. Thank you all for your support throughout this project!"

I don't have any more details and I don't want to second guess anyone else's decisions. I'm sure there will be a lot of chatter about it in the coming days. FWIW the posting for Huntington was for Moderate and a lot of folks have varying feelings about what that means. However, the Forest Service Avy Report was right on:

"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."
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on January 18, 2013, 09:03:17 AM
This is from this morning's Avalanche Advisory:

Quote
In the last two days, Mt. Washington has received just shy of 6” (15cm) of new snow. 3.6” (9cm) of this fell yesterday, which was greater than the forecasted amounts. During this time, W and NW winds were quite strong, gusting into the 80’s and 90’s mph (130-145kph). These did a great job of moving snow around in the ravines and creating stability problems. One very lucky party was avalanched from the top of Central Gully late in the day as they climbed through this newly deposited soft slab. More details will be posted tonight on our Weekend Update section of our website and on our Search and Rescue page.

Bright blue skies this morning are allowing good visibility, though some new blowing snow is obscuring the very top of Central. This shouldn’t amount to much additional loading during the day, so this fact places the emphasis for today on the potential for human triggers. Currently, lots of old, gray snow is visible with fresh white patches of new windslab scattered around. These areas are in the lee of terrain features that often lower the windspeed enough for wind transported snow to be deposited but also in swales and other irregularities in the snowpack. Expect the usual strong degree of spatial variability as you move around today. Examples of the most windloaded locations include in Central Gully above the ice bulge, in pinch points in Odell and Yale, and all the snowfields in Tuckerman across the Lip and Center Bowl. This is not to say other areas are without hazard, so pay attention even in areas rated Low today.

Winds out of the west yesterday. Other areas to consider are the transitions from steep to flat where sluffing snow has accumulated at the base of ice and rock faces as well as at the near the tops of gullies. Given the rounded nature of our geologically elderly terrain, the tops of gullies are often less pronounced than more youthful mountains. So instead of an obvious overhanging cornice, you may encounter gradually steepening snow which has been deposited in the wind rotor created at the “edge” of the ravine. These areas are also features that you should assess very carefully and possibly avoid.

http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/category/avalanche-advisory-for-tuckerman-and-huntington-ravines/
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: old_school on January 18, 2013, 09:54:56 AM
I wonder what route they were on? Very lucky indeed, must have been a terrifying ride.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on January 18, 2013, 11:06:47 AM
they were on Central...
Title: Re: Avalanche in Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: old_school on January 18, 2013, 11:31:58 AM
they were on Central...

Wow....
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: slink on January 18, 2013, 12:01:08 PM
http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130118/NEWS07/130119163&source=RSS
 
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DanRudmin on January 18, 2013, 07:00:05 PM
We were at Harvard cabin with them, and the only other group heading up that day. We left around 9:30 and passed them near the base of Huntington. By that time it was snowing heavily with low visibility and fairly strong winds. We checked out the base of Pinnacle and turned back returning to the cabin around noon. They were organizing near the split with Central last we saw. When we went down to Pinkham at 2 it was clear and calm on the trail. The USFS ranger had stopped by that morning and gave a warning of pretty much exactly what happened.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on January 18, 2013, 07:57:56 PM
I am very glad to hear no one was killed, and hope that when the whole group has had some time to heal and reflect on the choices for the day, route selection, lack of avalanche safety gear, travel techniques, etc they'll share their errors in detail with the public in order to help prevent similar accidents. Statements like "a slab avalanche broke loose" shirk responsibility. The group triggered the avalanche, it was not a natural avalanche, and the bulletin spelled out the how very possible this was.

Strong human factors, from climbing for a great cause, to having a film crew documenting the ascent, led people to either ignore the risks that were presented from both Mother Nature and the USFS Snow Rangers or caused them to accept much greater risk than they would have otherwise. Serious self-reflection and a willingness to share what really led to this incident will help save lives in the future.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on January 19, 2013, 10:54:36 AM
interesting... there were two experienced Everest climbers in this group. unfortunately one got a serious leg injury.

http://www.conwaydailysun.com/index.php/newsx/local-news/94842-avalanche-011913
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: neiceclimber on January 19, 2013, 12:44:05 PM
Not to demean anyone, but Modern day Everest is a walk up and more a testament to lung power than climbing ability.

My armchair response.

12 people is a lot to have on one slope under moderate ratings.

Aside from the avalanche, what I find most interesting is the amount of time they spent getting to the top. 4 hours from the cabin to the top of the fan and then another 4 hours to ascend the next 800 feet. Let's say this never happened and they kept chugging on, they still were only half way up in deteriorating conditions. It seems to me that based on their movements this thing was ripe for a rescue regardless of the avalanche.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on January 19, 2013, 06:23:49 PM
Really wish media would stop reporting “an avalanche happened” vrs. “a party triggered an avalanche”... every mainstream report makes it sound like this was some natural event... this was triggered by the film crew...

I was just reading a blog post by the guide from a few weeks ago talking about preparing for this trip... very interesting to hear what his biggest concerns for the day were:

http://ascentsofhonor.org/2012/12/28/managing-a-full-plate/

In particular:

"The primary focus turns out to be, of course, safety: no one gets bad frostbite, hit by a rock/falling ice/a thermos/or (heaven forbid) a camera (especially if it is turned off). Nobody gets caught in an avalanche, struck by lightning, blown off a ridge, or separated alone in a whiteout. Barring all that, every effort will be to encourage the audience to reach deep into their wallets and donate to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Every tweet, Facebook post, blog vignette, picture, blank screen to fill, will be towards that goal. Every effort will be to take this adventure and twist it around to convince every reader to convert their appreciation, honor and thanks into a contribution to the SOWF.

As the trip leader, I’m not unduly afraid of the hazards listed above. Those, I know how to manage.

No, my fears are: we won’t get the photos/video we want, the weather will not cooperate (in this case, it won’t be bad enough; Keith is so strong and skilled, anything less would be too straightforward), we won’t get posts out, we’ll get in a wreck on the drive up there, visibility will be zero, we inadvertently delete a huge pile of video, etc."
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JakeDatc on January 19, 2013, 08:13:28 PM
http://www.facebook.com/AscentsofHonor

The ignorance and passing off blame is ridiculous...   some guy tried to claim the guys weren't rescued  lol..  apparently 14 rescuers, 3 litter sleds and a snowcat doesn't count...

the attitude by the "leader" about going for the most difficult scenario seems like he was asking for the shit to hit the fan... problem was they got burned and didn't have a  "sweet epic brahhh" 
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: xcrag_corex 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....
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JakeDatc 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?
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DanRudmin 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.



Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: slevasse 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. 
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JakeDatc 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. 
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann 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/
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on January 21, 2013, 09:42:56 AM
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151401062429238&set=a.35844184237.42471.687929237&type=1
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann 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.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DanRudmin 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.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann 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.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: neiceclimber 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.

Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann 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...
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DanRudmin on January 21, 2013, 10:49:01 PM
Report is out:

http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/01-17-2013-avalanche-accident-in-central-gully/
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: xcrag_corex 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.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: om 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.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on January 22, 2013, 07:22:46 AM
Om, they had arranged to stay at MWOBS that night, which I am sure also contributed to their decision to keep going at such a late hour. They were also getting a ride down the next day in a snowcat.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on January 22, 2013, 07:38:22 AM
Report is out:

http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/01-17-2013-avalanche-accident-in-central-gully/

Well done
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Jeff on January 22, 2013, 08:53:05 AM
Report is out:

http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/01-17-2013-avalanche-accident-in-central-gully/

Well done
An exceptionally well written analysis/report; SO many lessons pointed out!
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on January 22, 2013, 10:05:38 AM
Extremely well written analysis of the incident. I strongly urge everyone to fully read it. It certainly does point out a variety of things that are worth considering if you are planning on spending time in the mountains.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: sneoh on January 22, 2013, 11:59:33 AM
The article has been moved.  This is now the link -
http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/search-rescue/2012-2013-summaries/01-17-2013-avalanche-accident-in-central-gully/
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: neiceclimber on January 22, 2013, 12:25:22 PM
Yes, well done.

I like the part where One of the members told the ranger that he's the one that thought they were idiots for climbing central that day. While I've never been called an idiot by any of the rangers for climbing, they certainly have questioned my judgement.

The other interesting point that I also thought about was how long it took team members to get off Central. Granted 3 of the 4 rope teams had been swept by the avalanche, and I would think rightfully so very shaken, but why they didn't send at least one member to try and facilitate rescue is interesting.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: lucky luke on January 25, 2013, 12:38:15 PM
Extremely well written analysis of the incident. I strongly urge everyone to fully read it.

Here is, at my knowledge, the biggest mistake:

In this incident, the group made the decision to climb Central Gully after receiving the weather report at the Harvard Cabin. When a Snow Ranger arrived at the Harvard Cabin shortly thereafter, the group had already decided they would climb Central. The Snow Ranger attempted to discuss snow stability with a gathering of several group members, but the group deferred judgment to the group leaders who were inside the cabin at the time

When you go to a trip like that, you don't want any body to anoid us with a "don't do that it is too dangerous". it is mostly what the ranger did. It is negative form of helping. Focussing on moderate, low or high is very subjective and nobody understannd it.

Talk about breaking point, keeping on belay, not climbing under an other party (keep the team togheter)...not climbing in avalanche path ... If you don't know self arrest, stay with some one who know it... It is obvious that they did the ice bulge one at a time, where there is not a lot of danger, but on the most dangerous terrain they climb without any organisation (climbing the team as one person).

Ask the question: How can we climb safely the Mt Washington?

They said: "Just prior to the avalanche, the lead team allowed the second team to pass them, so that they could get better set up for filming." At that moment, the party is concentrate on filming and don't pay much attention to the snow field. all the other analysis is just a testimony in favor of the avalanche awardness.

The reality is that they walk on deep snow voluntarly to take picture with a better angle. The danger was always there whatever the avalanche danger.

The ranger said the avalanche risk is too hight, and the party red book which said that even the higher risk in mt Washington is nothing compare to Mt Mckinley.   
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: eyebolter on January 25, 2013, 04:45:34 PM
For once I agree with you Luke.  It was a prime example of when to change to plan B;  Lions Head for example.  It was plan A all the way, conditions be dammed.  The morons going out into the middle of the gully to get better pictures just takes the cake.

Funny thing is that I almost died descending Diagonal after third classing Yale on a "low" avalanche day, which was our plan B becase the dike wasn't  in yet.   The best laid plans can go awry in the mountains.  In retrospect, there were dozens of times in the ravine when I could have bit it that seemed more dangerous than the day I was actually in an avalanche ( started by my partner descending above me).  Avalanches happen, and there is no way to be 100% safe.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: lucky luke on January 26, 2013, 02:36:46 AM
For once I agree with you Luke.  [...]  The morons going out into the middle of the gully to get better pictures just takes the cake.
Thank you to agree with me...

It is a mistake to go in the middle of the snow slab, the climber said: "he was climbing through soft snow about thigh-deep or waist-deep"... but I don't think that he is a morron

If you swim in a lake and you swim to the middle of the lake, you have water every where around you. It is dangerous for nothing. When you climb a mountain and you arrive at the summit, you have one of the most spectacular moment in your life. It is one reason why climbing is so attractive and so ridicule to scare people at a point that you suggest them to hike lion head trail instead of central couloir.With a little bit more leadership of two person, they would have been safe.

You have a leader of the team, who brought eleven climber to close to the top. Thinking that his job is done, he let the second party past to the summit and stay with the rest of the team to make sure that every think is O.K. He made a mistake not saying to be carefull at the snow field, but they were pratically at the summit.

The second party had also a leader. Is it the one who walk into the snow? I don't know. But the leader have also to take a decision: taking beautifull picture or secure is party. As the leader of the team let them go. The second party probably think that they were safe now...and, after a full day in safe ground, they underestimated the danger of the montain...even with a moderate avalanche danger and a ranger who talked to them. We are in the case of the women of mt jackson who, with the wind in her back, hike to the summit. And, when she turned back to follow her foot print, she realized that she can be lost if she try to follow her path. She stayed in the mountain doing jumper jack all night long.

Underestimation is not stupid...it is just that some one don't have enought experiences or are distracted by some thing else (beautifull women for example).  You drive, try to reach your cell phone...and have an accident... or you coffee fall on your leg... These are mistakes, you are not stupid, but the result is... Today, the people are not son of climber who climb with daughter of climber. Today, the climber come from every where and they have to know that basic technique exist and they have to train there technique to be able to estimate a real dangerous. All technique are easy because under stress or other consideration, one most be able to use it. But it is not because you read about a french technique, pied en canard or an other like pidgeon hole, that you are able to do it in the cliff when your life is at risk.

We saw that the avalanche awardness is no longer an advantage because, even if the people of the team talked to a ranger and saw the avalanche condition, they climbed. Avalanche awardness said: O.K. today it is low, go for it and if you don't have experiment, we will laught at you or today I don't want to rescue you in the mountain, so do some thing else.  Sad 

   
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on January 26, 2013, 09:23:58 PM

...It is one reason why climbing is so attractive and so ridicule to scare people at a point that you suggest them to hike lion head trail instead of central couloir.With a little bit more leadership of two person, they would have been safe.

You have a leader of the team, who brought eleven climber to close to the top... He made a mistake not saying to be carefull at the snow field, but they were pratically at the summit.

Underestimation is not stupid...it is just that some one don't have enought experiences or are distracted by some thing else (beautifull women for example).  You drive, try to reach your cell phone...and have an accident... or you coffee fall on your leg... These are mistakes, you are not stupid...

We saw that the avalanche awardness is no longer an advantage because, even if the people of the team talked to a ranger and saw the avalanche condition, they climbed. Avalanche awardness said: O.K. today it is low, go for it and if you don't have experiment, we will laught at you or today I don't want to rescue you in the mountain, so do some thing else.  Sad

1) No one tried to “scare” them into doing something different. Instead rangers, care-takers, and locals tried to share local knowledge about the current conditions so that they could hopefully come to the conclusion that taking a slow moving 12 person party into Central Gully that day was perhaps riskier than they may have thought...

2) They were not “close” to the top. Given the 8 hours it took them to get from Harvard Cabin to almost topping out Central they were 4+ hours from the summit still given the conditions.

3) Underestimation may not be “stupid” but ignoring the advice of professionals and regular locals is quite questionable.

4) Avalanche awareness is not an advantage? How can not being aware of the risks and how to best manage them not be an advantage? No one is laughing at anyone for climbing in LOW conditions, but if the danger is high rescuers do need to protect themselves, as some have died while trying to help those whose risk acceptance, or ignorance, led them to untimely demise. Avalanche education starts with a desire to learn what you don’t know, and realize you will never know everything. It’s a lifelong process, but I find it challenging and exciting, and I’m glad to live in a community with multiple organizations that are into helping people manage risk in the mountains.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: lucky luke on January 26, 2013, 10:29:47 PM
2) They were not “close” to the top. Given the 8 hours it took them to get from Harvard Cabin to almost topping out Central they were 4+ hours from the summit still given the conditions.

Dman there is a picture of where was the team with that text:

"The picture indicates our best estimates of where the rope teams were located at the time of the avalanche. It was approximately 4:30pm when the avalanche was triggered. The party at the top was not caught or carried, though they may have slid a short distance. The second-highest team was caught and carried over the ice bulge to the base of the gully"

You are completely blind. We talk about safety and people life, not just an ego trip to have the true. The climb have a little bit more than a thousand feet. Four party with rope of 150 make 600 feets. There is people every where in the couloir. Thje second party who take the lead was very close to the alpine garder where the route end.

People trust you and you gave wrong information. Every body can see on the picture where was the party.

It is the same with the avalanche awardness. You focus on a scale of danger and the people don't understand all the information about how to climb safely.

Before, people learns techniques and know what to do. For them, it is usefull to know that today crossing a snow field is more dangerous than when the condition was low. it is a tool to take better decision.

But to take decision...you most know your technique and most people don't even know what is the meaning of leadership in a party, they don't know how to avoid a danger and they don't know how to evaluate if it is a hasard or just a scary situation. They just know that moderate is lower than considerable and higher than low.   
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JBro on January 26, 2013, 11:08:30 PM
(http://i.imgur.com/uVa40Et.gif)
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on January 27, 2013, 06:10:27 AM
By "top" I meant summit, not top of gully.

We spend maybe 45 minutes out of the 24 hours of an AIARE 1 course talking about the avalanche danger scale. It's important to understand the scale beyond just low/mod/con but it is only one piece of a large puzzle.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on February 06, 2013, 03:44:23 PM
UPDATE: Letter to the editor for Conway Daily Sun from the group leader, Andy:

http://ascentsofhonor.org/2013/02/06/a-letter-to-the-editor/

Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: darwined on February 06, 2013, 07:06:59 PM
UPDATE: Letter to the editor for Conway Daily Sun from the group leader, Andy:

http://ascentsofhonor.org/2013/02/06/a-letter-to-the-editor/

After reading that, I feel a little bit guilty for judging these guys. :(
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JBro on February 06, 2013, 08:36:54 PM
Seems like they've done some soul searching.

Quote
We fully expected our slow progress would improve on the steeper ground and windswept slopes, that were only 100 feet above us when the avalanche occurred.

However that bit still seems like a fantasy to me.

For one thing, 100 feet above them was the top of the gully and the terrain was going to get less steep not more. Secondly, imo the terrain from the garden to the summit is comparable in difficulty to the terrain between the cabin and the start of the gully--except it would have been dark, much colder, and extremely windy not to mention how tired they would have been at that point.

Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JakeDatc on February 07, 2013, 11:56:04 AM
UPDATE: Letter to the editor for Conway Daily Sun from the group leader, Andy:

http://ascentsofhonor.org/2013/02/06/a-letter-to-the-editor/

After reading that, I feel a little bit guilty for judging these guys. :(

Sounds to me like a predictable damage control press release in hopes of not getting (rightly) billed for the rescue.

with continued undertones that they weren't completely wrong.   "There are few adventures we would not manage differently the next time"

Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: om on February 07, 2013, 01:37:58 PM
For one thing, 100 feet above them was the top of the gully and the terrain was going to get less steep not more. Secondly, imo the terrain from the garden to the summit is comparable in difficulty to the terrain between the cabin and the start of the gully--except it would have been dark, much colder, and extremely windy not to mention how tired they would have been at that point.

Yea, that was the point that i was trying to make too. There is a long way between top of Central and the Summit. What I see as probable scenario would be: Once they were out of the steep they would've stopped, un-roped, sat down to eat, etc (you have to, no-one can keep going for 12 hours without). Now it's 7pm and they are starting up for the summit. Wind is 50mi/h, everyone is very tired and cold...They walk for another 2 hours and can't move efficiently anymore. Its 10pm before they realize they are in real trouble... 12 people, up high and exposed, still hours from shelter. Could be worse than one broken ankle. Would've been definitely more complicated for the rescue team.

As far as paying for the rescue - i would not send them a bill. In my book they were not reckless. 
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JBro on February 07, 2013, 01:46:10 PM
Yes, I'm starting to believe the policy needs to be either everybody that requires rescue needs to pay, or nobody needs to pay. It's way too subjective otherwise.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on February 07, 2013, 09:33:14 PM
with continued undertones that they weren't completely wrong.   "There are few adventures we would not manage differently the next time"

I think you’re interpreting that quote wrong... it is poorly worded, but I think you are reading;

“We would not do it differently next time”

when what they are saying is:

“We would do this differently next time”

It’s just a poorly worded statement as it is easily mis-read...
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JakeDatc on February 07, 2013, 11:43:17 PM
Ah..  yea that should have been stated better.. i get it.    too much hype on the adventure of it all. 
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: lucky luke on February 15, 2013, 01:57:24 PM
Quote
. High up in the gully, we would have been much better to bring the whole group up high, anchor in solidly and then proceed to address the exit of the gully (with a new aspect, angle, and potential snow loading)

Exactly what I said in my analysis!

And the reason why I blame the analysis of the rescue.

You are not for the climber, you promote hiking in lion head
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on February 15, 2013, 08:13:30 PM
Never turn back Luke... never...

The analysis was written and edited by quite a few very skilled accomplished climbers, with INTIMATE knowledge of the terrain... so “you are not for the climber, you promote hiking lion head” borders on the highest level of ignorance. I’m sure your analysis, deduced from looking at Central from Route 16 and “not seeing 2-3 feet of snow there” was much more accurate...

Other less “provable” considerations are there are no “solid anchors” in that section of Central, and given the location of the slab it was probably impossible to avoid it and still top out, especially with 12 people...

but never turn back Luke... never...
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JBro on February 15, 2013, 10:40:44 PM
You are not for the climber, you promote hiking in lion head

Quote
With the benefit of hindsight, we do not think climbing Central Gully would have been a poor choice for every group on this day. Given the weather conditions and increasing avalanche hazard, an early-rising, fast-moving team of climbers comfortable with the terrain could have climbed through the gully before instabilities developed very far. If snow stability during the climb had deteriorated too much, they could have downclimbed, rappelled, or traversed out of the gully into the rocks on the right before they developed to the point where they might naturally release.

Their own analysis finds that in their opinion there are groups of climbers that could have safely tackled Central on that day, so I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that they're somehow anti-climbing.

I used to climb up in the Ravine a lot, and all the people I met that worked up there went out of the way to provide information while letting climbers make their own decisions. Other than enforcing camping regulations around the cabin, I never once heard them tell somebody not to do something.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on February 16, 2013, 09:24:27 AM
...I never once heard them tell somebody not to do something.

me neither!
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on February 16, 2013, 06:51:05 PM
Well said JBrochu
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: lucky luke on February 16, 2013, 09:23:07 PM
I never once heard them tell somebody not to do something.

Here what they wrote: "he stated that this was the Snow Ranger “that thought we were idiots for climbing Central” that day."

you don't here it, you read it!!!

Instead of talking that person are idiot, maybe it is more usefull to talk about safety. The leader agree that hemade mistake. Maybe you make also a mistake in overestimating the danger and criticize those who analyse the problem and ask for more training before going to the cliff!!!!
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JBro on February 16, 2013, 10:40:59 PM
Yeah it's pretty clear the Ranger provided information that strongly suggested it might not be a good idea to attempt Central that day for that particular group. Funny how that all worked out.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on February 17, 2013, 02:02:54 PM
Funny how that all worked out.

++
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: M_Sprague on February 17, 2013, 10:12:48 PM
If people would just carry their nitro and snow mortars with them, like they are supposed to, they wouldn't have these problems.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DGoguen on February 27, 2013, 10:24:04 PM
For a hundred twenty five bucks a head, you can meet the stars of the reality show.
http://www.mountwashington.org/events/ascents2013/
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on February 27, 2013, 11:52:43 PM
For a hundred twenty five bucks a head, you can meet the stars of the reality show.
http://www.mountwashington.org/events/ascents2013/

I'm going to attend for two reasons;

1) As a vet I strongly support their mission & cause, despite their overwhelming confidence in the face of local advice

2) I'd like to hear how they re-tell what happened to a captive audience. I'm cautiously optimistic they will be accurate.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DGoguen on February 28, 2013, 11:05:46 AM
I'd like to hear how they re-tell what happened to a captive audience. I'm cautiously optimistic they will be accurate.
I hope for your sake your right, the pre game show was pretty dramatic.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on March 01, 2013, 11:42:48 AM
FYI If you live in the area and can pick up Friday's Conway Daily Sun, there is a letter to the editor from Joe Lentiini regarding this episode & the rescue. He basically is saying that he is "insulted" by the MRS rescue team being referred to as someone who "delivered the equipment they needed to descend". The letter is not yet on the Sun's web site, tho it should be soon. If you can get a copy, it's worth reading...

http://www.conwaydailysun.com/index.php/opinion/letters
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on March 04, 2013, 08:11:56 PM
This letter to the editor was posted in the Conway Daily Sun last week regarding the Ascents Of Honor incident in Huntington Ravine. I don't know why this wasn't posted on the Conway Sun web site, but here it is:

Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: ELM on March 05, 2013, 07:23:16 AM
That was a very well written smack down...go Joe!! :)
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: lucky luke on March 05, 2013, 08:01:03 AM
This letter to the editor was posted in the Conway Daily Sun last week regarding the Ascents Of Honor incident in Huntington Ravine. I don't know why this wasn't posted on the Conway Sun web site, but here it is:

The letter and the text:

Quote
The first Snow Ranger and HMC caretaker parked the snowmobile near the first aid cache at the base of Huntington. At 6:20pm, approximately 200 yards uphill from the cache, they encountered the injured climbers slowly working their way down the trail. They briefly questioned the group about what had happened and if they had any information about the rest of the team. Knowing there were more rescuers who would be arriving soon, they did not want first aid at this time. At the request of the lead guide, the hasty team continued up into Huntington where they could see headlamps slowly descending the gully. They climbed up the fan, careful to avoid the avalanche runout path from Odell, Pinnacle, or Central Gully, until they were able to make contact with the remaining climbers and determined that they were doing OK.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JJ Jameson on March 06, 2013, 09:19:49 AM
Hey Al,
Do you have the article/letter that Joe specifically refers to and was responding to?
I haven't been able to find it online.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on March 06, 2013, 01:49:38 PM
I  think it's this...

http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org/search-rescue/2012-2013-summaries/01-17-2013-avalanche-accident-in-central-gully/
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on March 06, 2013, 02:49:23 PM
No, Al he’s referring to the press release last Sunday in the Conway Daily Sun advertising the fundraiser for MWOBS via Wounded Warriors where the unknown author stated “MRS delivered the gear we needed to descend”. That is what invoked Joe’s response, rightfully so IMO. I’m looking forward to attending the event with an open mind to see how they re-tell the story...
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JJ Jameson on March 06, 2013, 06:16:33 PM
Yeah, the one Joe refers to directly, Feb. 27 on page 9. Would love to see the wording.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JBro on March 06, 2013, 08:19:40 PM
I think if you know somebody who subscribes to the electronic version they can pull that issue out of the archives.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on March 06, 2013, 10:01:07 PM
I no longer have a copy, and I don’t subscribe.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DGoguen on March 07, 2013, 07:31:22 AM
Here it is;
 :-\Pulled it out of the litter box.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: mopowers on March 07, 2013, 07:59:53 AM
First post Dave.....again!  ;D

I thought we lost you.....again.

Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: mopowers on March 07, 2013, 08:00:13 AM
glad to have you back.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DGoguen on March 07, 2013, 09:01:06 AM
Yeah, another Merlot induced fit of self righteousness. Ha
Al's got to make it harder to get away. One click on "delete account" and it's like being born again. ::)
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: JJ Jameson on March 07, 2013, 12:22:04 PM
Thanx for taking the time to do that!
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DGoguen on March 07, 2013, 02:52:19 PM
Thanx for taking the time to do that!
Sure.
The Daily Sun has so many typos some days the cats won't even Sh#@ on it!
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DGoguen on May 21, 2013, 06:53:33 PM
For a hundred twenty five bucks a head, you can meet the stars of the reality show.
http://www.mountwashington.org/events/ascents2013/

I'm going to attend for two reasons;

1) As a vet I strongly support their mission & cause, despite their overwhelming confidence in the face of local advice

2) I'd like to hear how they re-tell what happened to a captive audience. I'm cautiously optimistic they will be accurate.

Hey Dave

How was the presentation last month. What was your take on it?
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DLottmann on May 21, 2013, 10:17:18 PM
Didn’t attend but eyewitnesses say they didn’t talk about the accident at all despite using it to sell tickets.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: Admin Al on May 22, 2013, 07:31:04 AM
Al's got to make it harder to get away. One click on "delete account" and it's like being born again. ::)

LOL... no self control aye?
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: DGoguen on May 22, 2013, 08:15:59 AM
Al's got to make it harder to get away. One click on "delete account" and it's like being born again. ::)

LOL... no self control aye?
Ooooh, you don't know the half of it. Ha Ha

Thanks Dman, just curious.
Title: Re: Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.
Post by: punxnotdead on May 22, 2013, 11:43:13 AM
Daves sarcasm is awesome!  I cant wait to get out climbing with him and Jim again. Finger is almost there!