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08/22/14, 12:36 PM

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Author Topic: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day  (Read 5001 times)
GregSimon
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June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« on: 06/15/08, 05:41 PM »

For the last 6 years, my son Zach and I have a tradition of skiing the Nisqually Chute above Paradise.  That was our plan on Saturday.  We headed up the Muir snowfield, turned around at about 9500ft, and skied some of the rollers down the chute for warmup.  At the top of the chute, we saw this slide that looked to have been skier-triggered.  The crown was 2-3 feet deep and the debris slid for several hundred feet.

It was an easy choice to skip the chute and stick to low-angle skiing on the way down.  We did dig a pit - not to help our decision but to get a good look at what a weak layer looked like.  We found two clear weak layers at about 1 foot down (the Mon/Tues snowfall) and 2 feet down (last Friday's snowfall).

After getting over our disappointment at giving up one of our favorite lines, we found the surface conditions above 700 feet to be spectacularly good.  Some of the smoothest, fastest, funnest corn I've ever skied on the Muir snowfield.

It got stickier below Panorama Point, but we still had fun with some terrain features.  Here's one photo of Zach getting a bit of air off one.  And my best photo of the day is friend Dave completing an off-balance landing and heading for one of the most spectacular crashes I've ever seen.  One of those crashes where you say "Are you still alive?"  And then you say "I wish I had that on film!"

It was possible to skin all the way up - either up Pan Face or up the climbers' trail.

Zach did decide to haul the silly fat skis up, and I decided to stick with my "skinny" (90mm waist) skis to save weight.  He was right.  I was really coveting that wide platform when it got mushy.

No Nisqually chute for Fathers' Day this year.  But a good lesson learned about snow stability and risk assessment.





* NisquallyChuteSlabSlide.jpg (23.59 KB, 448x299 - viewed 1340 times.)

* ZachInAir.jpg (31.68 KB, 448x299 - viewed 1340 times.)

* DavesSpectacularCrash.JPG (18.39 KB, 448x336 - viewed 1351 times.)
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Merk
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #1 on: 06/15/08, 07:32 PM »

That's a sweet crash pic, but if you'd said you were imitating superman and meant to to do that; I would've believed it.  Nice one!
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lowrider
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Da
« Reply #2 on: 06/15/08, 09:40 PM »

We skied in the Tatoosh range and had a high camp below The Castle. We spent some time watching the activity on the Muir snowfield with binoculars (at times it looked like Chilcoot pass during the gold rush). We saw a bunch of people gathered at the debris field from that slide and  followed it up to the large crown fracture. It looked ugly even from a distance and gave us pause.  That aspect at the back of the Tatoosh range had similar fresh slide activity. The corn at the top,though, was similarly spectacular this morning.
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Stugie
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #3 on: 06/15/08, 11:54 PM »

Glad you had a great Father's Day!  Did your son Zach ever meet up with some guy @ crystal on Gold Hills to jump a kicker over the maintenance shed?
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GregSimon
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #4 on: 06/16/08, 08:10 AM »

I'll have to ask Zach about that.  That may have been him.  But if it was, the parents didn't hear about that escapade.
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Salal
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Da
« Reply #5 on: 06/16/08, 09:13 AM »

  I was the one who remotely triggered that slide that ran the length of the chutes. I was about 50 yards away when it went.. making turns well above the main entrance.
« Last Edit: 07/27/08, 01:00 AM by Spicoli » Logged
androolus
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #6 on: 06/16/08, 09:37 AM »

SPICOLI,

thanks for triggering the slide. Glad I wasn't the one to do it and glad it was a remote trigger. Though next time, please make the whole slope slide. The snow underneath the slide would have been great skiing, but that only lasted a few hundred feet. We contemplated skiing it, but thought better of skiing the lower half of the chutes which hadn't slid.

Also thanks to Amar for inspiring me to milk the cow(litz) cleavage(er). Glad it didn't slide.

Photos including various crown photos....There were a number of crowns over on the wilson as well.
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cjm720
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #7 on: 06/16/08, 10:01 AM »

I was with Spicoli shooting the footage of his descent to the nisqually chutes.  I think I might bring an extra set of drawers next time.  It sounded like an exaggerated shotgun blast, and its force and boom was so big I thought it was on the opposite side of the glacier but it was fifty feet above and to the left of me (and Andy). When it slid, it moved extremely slow and didn't bottom out for what seemed to be about 5 minutes.  We were actually aiming to descend thru a chute to skiers left of the Chutes proper, so thankfully we were out of the way.  However, our chosen line still looked amazing.  I'm confident it could have been skied/boarded but it simply wasn't a smart/safe call so we headed back to the Muir snowfield. As we were leaving right above our chosen chute, a huge woomp occur ed that got us moving pretty fast.  Nothing like being over a 30 foot cliff looking at avy debris of a good size avalanche and then hearing a thunderous woomp.  This all happened at about 1.15 PM.  Thanks to Andy for the photo.

That's the second perfect day I've stared at the Chutes and have not been able to slay it.  The elusive 'Chutes!

Does anyone have any reports of the large slide on the west side of the Nisqually glacier? My friend said it was in the middle of a climbers route.  It was huge and it looked as if there was some activity below the debris, as in someone got snagged and was being tended to. Here's hoping to everyone's okay.  Here's a photo, thanks again to Andy.


* top_of_nisqually_chutes_slide.jpg (62.94 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1107 times.)

* climbers_route_slide.jpg (61.4 KB, 800x600 - viewed 1110 times.)
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CascadeClimber
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #8 on: 06/16/08, 10:56 AM »

I was there when it happened. It was skier-triggered from above and a boot-packing snowboarder was caught and washed halfway down the slope. He was extremely lucky that he wasn't buried in it and walked away with a scraped arm and some missing gear. The snowboarder was just above the rock when he got hit and I think the skier was in the bottleneck and somehow didn't get caught.

Later in the day most of the Wilson Headwall broke loose and slid.

I got some video of a skier on Fuhrer Thumb late afternoon Saturday. If it was anyone here and you want a copy let me know. We skied the Finger on Sunday, which was in fine shape, though the steepest part of the route, just below where it joins the rocky crest that is getting a bit thin.


* IMG_3538_2.jpg (66.62 KB, 550x552 - viewed 1088 times.)
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cjm720
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #9 on: 06/16/08, 02:26 PM »

Thanks, Cascadeclimber, for the report. Glad no one got too hurt.
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ryanl
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Da
« Reply #10 on: 06/16/08, 05:52 PM »



Does anyone have any reports of the large slide on the west side of the Nisqually glacier? My friend said it was in the middle of a climbers route.  It was huge and it looked as if there was some activity below the debris, as in someone got snagged and was being tended to. Here's hoping to everyone's okay.  Here's a photo, thanks again to Andy.


I was the skier who triggered the slide. My brother, Monika, and I had just skied the finger (Monika skied the thumb) and were enjoying ourselves when we came to the spot that slid. I was in front and slowed as I neared the roll that starts the pitch. Monika thought we should ski to the right. I thought about it, but decided to drop in anyway.

As soon as I cleared the roll everything around me cut loose and the slope changed instantly from creamy corn to slurpee chunks the size of my torso and as high as my thigh. My first thought was to traverse out, skier's left.  But as I pointed my skis I got a glimpse of what I'd started. The fracture had progated at least 50 meters to my left (and I later estimated about 200 meters to my right). The weight of the slide started to drag my skis under and point me down towards the funnel that was being created but the rock outcropping beneath me. Traversing out was impossible. I remember seeing a climber (who I'd only first seen once I'd committed to skiing) get taken and disappear beneath me. I knew that I couldn't ski out of it, and that bad shit would happed if I let it carry me down. I remember thinking thoughts I'd rather not share. I'd traveled about 30 or 40 feet by this time. I don't remember making any decision. I just remember turning hard into the slope and thrusting both my fists into the underlying surface as hard as I could, trying to edge my skis as much as possible. I ducked my chin to my chest (I was wearing a helmet) and braced myself as the debris above washed over and around me. For a few seconds every muscle in my body was tensed. Once the worst of it passed, my first thought was that I' might have just killed some people, which felt worse than any of the thoughts I chose not to share. I quickly skied to the top of the rock band to survey the scene and saw a lone person below, lying on top of the snow, and about four ( I think) people running away from the base of the pitch. I quickly looked elsewhere for clues to other bodies but didn't see anything. I didn't want to descend too quickly in case someone happened to be buried higher up. By this time 2 more people had arrived and everybody was yelling at the climber beneath me, asking if he was Ok. Once he said that he was I started yelling to everybody to find their partners so that we could figure out if anybody was missing. It was pretty chaotic. Once we figured out that nobody was missing I skied down thru the debris to the climber as fast as I could. I think I was the first to arrive, but Monika arrived not far behind. My brother had stayed on top to keep an eye on me while I dug in. The climber/split boarder, amazingly, had only a few scratches. He, and I, are very, very lucky.
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ski_photomatt
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Da
« Reply #11 on: 06/16/08, 08:45 PM »

Wow, really glad everyone is OK!  Ryan and SPICOLI, thank you for sharing your experiences. 

I'd like to learn something from this so I hope no one minds if I ask some questions.  Were these two slides on similar aspects?  Can someone describe the snow conditions a little more?  It looks like in Ryan's case it was all the recent snow sliding on older, dirtier snow?  What was the snow like on the ascent?  Weak or hard freeze at night?
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CascadeClimber
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #12 on: 06/16/08, 09:00 PM »

I was one of the two who arrived after the slide. From below we couldn't see anyone other than the triggering skier and the snowboarder who was engulfed. The snowboarder got tossed around like he was in a washing machine and finally disappeared from my sight. I was pretty sure he was buried. Then I saw the other two skiers ski around, and I thought they triggered another slide, shown circled to the left in this pic. The two slides seem to be separate. The crowns at least are. I marked Xs where the snowboarder was and where he ended up.

I'm glad everyone is okay. It could have easily taken out all three skiers, the snowboarder, four people below (visiting from Boston), and me and my partner had it entrained just a bit more. As it was it stopped only 10 yards or so from where the four Boston people were.

Sorry about the massive thread hikjacking.

L


* IMG_3540edited.jpg (98.43 KB, 750x504 - viewed 931 times.)
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BigRed
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Da
« Reply #13 on: 06/16/08, 09:21 PM »

I was up on Muir that day as well shortly after the slide came down at the top of the Nisqually chute.  Glad everyone was alright - it looked pretty scary from where we were.  Part of it dumped into a crevasse as well.

We noticed minor settling on our hike up on any aspect that was more east facing, even on the lower angles. 

Here is the slide from a different vantage:
http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=10330.0

Here is another fairly significant slide higher up the Nisqually that I believe went on its own:


* 2008.06.14_slide.jpg (99.25 KB, 700x525 - viewed 935 times.)
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Salal
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Da
« Reply #14 on: 06/16/08, 09:43 PM »

 I recall now seeing that slide as I was coming down the snowfield and thinking we were in better shape given its angle and the way it faced. I believe all these slides happened within ten minutes. Wind transport from the last storm and the temp hitting a certain point that day seemed to do the trick. Things were very connected at that elevation within that snowpack. I'm glad everyone is ok....what a forbidden fruit that corn was.
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ron j
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #15 on: 06/16/08, 09:47 PM »

Here's a shot of the Nisqually Chutes slide from the top of Plummer.
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crustos
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Da
« Reply #16 on: 06/16/08, 10:30 PM »

At this rate, every skier on the mountain Saturday will have reported in on these slides. Which is good. Speaking for myself, it's great to have all this data to correlate with my memories of the conditions that day. I expect to be safer for it.

NWAC: It's worth noting that the dire NWAC avalanche warning for Thursday was perhaps more relevant to Saturday, when things actually started to slide. By this time, the NWAC web page had returned to its generic off season message.

Aspect: The original NWAC warning emphasized NE to SE aspects.
The Nisqually chute slide started on a (roughly) SW aspect, and the near-catastrophe slide looks to be roughly due south.

Back to the original thread, one more point: It's getting harder to skin to Muir every day. It helps to bear climber's left when in doubt. I ran into a nice group of people Saturday (jplingo and friends), who joined me in getting too close to the crest of the ridge above Panorama Point (the typical winter route, I think). We went separate ways at that point, but each party spent a good chunk of time on the rocks.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #17 on: 06/17/08, 09:00 PM »

I thought it might be worthwhile to capture the NWAC avalanche statement that preceded these avalanches. This one was issued on Tuesday, 6/10/08. It appears that this statement was replaced by the generic spring statement on Thursday, 6/12/08.

Quote
BACKCOUNTRY AVALANCHE STATEMENT FOR THE OLYMPICS WASHINGTON
CASCADES AND MT HOOD AREA
NORTHWEST WEATHER AND AVALANCHE CENTER SEATTLE WASHINGTON
1215 PM PDT TUE JUN 10 2008

NWAC Program administered by:
USDA-Forest Service
with cooperative funding and support from:
Washington State Department of Transportation
National Weather Service
National Park Service
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
Pacific Northwest Ski Area Association
Friends of the Avalanche Center
and other private organizations.

This statement applies to back country avalanche terrain below
7000 feet and does not apply to highways or operating ski
areas.

WAZ513-518-519-019-042-501-502-ORZ011-112100-

&&

...SPECIAL AVALACHE STATEMENT FOR TUESDAY THROUGH THURSDAY...

The unusually cool and wet spring in the Pacific Northwest has
continued over the past several days. Snow levels lowered to
below 3000 feet in the central Washington Cascades early
Tuesday with 8 inches of new snow accumulating at Snoqualmie
Pass! New snow amounts as of Tuesday morning are ranging from
about 4 to 14 inches with the most new snow recorded at
Paradise on Mt Rainier. Over the past week, Paradise has
received about 30 inches of new snow! While most other areas
above about 5000 feet near or west of the Cascade crest and in
the Olympics likely received 1 to 2 feet of snow.

This new snow has been accompanied by very strong winds as
well. This has likely created new cornices along ridges and
developed local unstable wind slabs on lee mostly northeast to
southeast facing slopes, especially higher terrain near
ridges. The unusual June weather has lead to some winter-like
avalanche conditions above about 5000 feet in the Cascades and
Olympics.

Back country travelers should be extra cautious and expect
unstable snow conditions, especially in areas that have
received the greatest new snow amounts and on steep slopes
that have received wind transported snow.   

The weather should begin improving Wednesday with mostly
cloudy conditions early with increasing sun breaks expected
later Wednesday and rising freezing levels. Sunshine and
further rising freezing levels are expected Thursday with
freezing levels reaching 9 to 11,000 feet in the north and
south respectively by Thursday afternoon. This expected
weather should cause an increase in the avalanche danger,
especially late Wednesday and again Thursday as the recent
snow quickly becomes wet and unstable due to the affects of
the sunshine and warming. Wet loose and possibly wet slab
avalanches should become likely later Wednesday and again
Thursday, with some slides entraining significant snow as they
descend.

Back country travelers should avoid steep slopes over the next
few days and remain aware of the terrain both above and below
intended travel routes as those caught in avalanches can be
carried into terrain traps such as trees, gullies or
crevasses. Many avalanche fatalities have occurred in the
spring in the Northwest from wet snow avalanches, especially
on the volcanic peaks. Climbing to higher elevations on the
volcanoes over the next few days is not recommended.

This statement will be updated as warranted. Please have a
safe and enjoyable spring!

&&

Backcountry travelers should be aware that elevation and
geographic distinctions are approximate and that a transition
zone between dangers exists.  Remember there are avalanche
safe areas in the mountains during all levels of avalanche
danger.  Contact local authorities in your area of interest
for further information.

NWAC weather data and forecasts are also available by calling
206-526-6677 for Washington, 503-808-2400 for the Mt Hood
area, or by visiting our Web site at www.nwac.us. Also note
that field snowpack information is often available on the FOAC
website at www.avalanchenw.org, and weather and avalanche
glossaries for commonly used terms in the forecasts can be
found on the NWAC education page.

Kramer/Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center

$$
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Stugie
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #18 on: 06/17/08, 10:07 PM »

Lowell,  I thought I'd respond since Kyle and I were looking at Baker (Easton glcr.) as early as the 8 & 9 because the forecast then said sunny all weekend.  We were a bit worried about too much sun on a S exposure so we kept an eye on freezing levels, which appeared to be just shy of where things climbed to in May.  After hearing a report of rain at 6100' from Thursday, and checking the weather and seeing partly sunny Saturday with clearing Friday, we decided to set it in stone and try for it.  We had a great weather window (which sounds like you guys hit really nicely too - we contemplated going up Sherman - next time).  As far as I knew, with the recent storm as of the beginning of last week, and a warming cycle, we were thinking not to drop too far in to the C-S cascades.  So this time I guess the answer is no to using tr's to persuade us.

However, we do use tr's on here frequently to gauge other trips we've gone on, gain a feel for the conditions there, and I feel that you're on to something in saying that it could possibly be a danger for this community to use TAY as they might NWAC.  This was one time it wasn't such an influence, but it definitely has been.
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"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
Lowell_Skoog
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #19 on: 06/17/08, 10:16 PM »

Hi Stugie,

I moved my post to a separate thread to avoid hijacking this one:

http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=10378.0

Sorry for the switcheroo...
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jpLingo
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #20 on: 06/18/08, 01:37 PM »

I think we met just about everyone who Posted on the Muir Snowfield that day.  I too was longing to ski the Nisqually Chute and am glad that no one got hurt in that slide.

When looking back from the lot there were similar aspects as the west side of the Nisqually glacier on the Cowlitz Glacier (near Anvil Rock at approximately 9500') that slid naturally. 
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blitz
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Da
« Reply #21 on: 06/18/08, 08:43 PM »

I don't remember making any decision. I just remember turning hard into the slope and thrusting both my fists into the underlying surface as hard as I could, trying to edge my skis as much as possible. I ducked my chin to my chest (I was wearing a helmet) and braced myself as the debris above washed over and around me. For a few seconds every muscle in my body was tensed.

I read this and I think it is brilliant!

I have tried to imagine what it would be like to "swim" in an avalanche - it seems rather silly.

Your solution seems more natural - if you can make contact with the bed surface, dig with your edges and poles (or fingernails), duck your head and try to slow yourself down!!!!

I am glad you are all safe...
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alisa
cms829
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Re: June 14, 2008, Rainier, No Nisqually Chute fo Fathers Day
« Reply #22 on: 06/23/08, 10:33 AM »


I'm glad everyone is okay. It could have easily taken out all three skiers, the snowboarder, four people below (visiting from Boston), and me and my partner had it entrained just a bit more. As it was it stopped only 10 yards or so from where the four Boston people were.



L

hey.  Im one of the 4 from boston (well actually I myself am from New Jersey)  anyway...  it was def an intense couple of minutes.  And I am sure glad with the outcome as everyone else seems to be.  I looked up saw the whole thing fracture and just yelled run....then tried to keep an eye on the splitboarder and the skiers to get ready for a worst case scenario.  At that point I thought we were gonna have big problems.  possibly including ourselves.  Once it stopped not far from us, it was pretty hectic as ryanl said.  Trying to figure out if everyone was accounted for.  I'd say we had it figured out within 60 seconds though after it stopped (which felt like 10 minutes at the time)

Anyway, I registered just to say a couple things, I admire the way everyone kept their cool during and after the slide.  I think everyone there handled the situation well.  We all know how it could of turned out.  And huge respect to the splitboarder for strapin in and riding down after i bandaged ya up.  Hope your feelin well!  I'd like to get you some pics and some of the video we shot so if you see this send me a message.  See you guys out there again soon. 

Chris

Ps...we slept at the base of the slide that night and we tried going up the western side of the bowl the next morning.  started climbing and i didnt feel too comfortable with it, we backed down and gave the DC a go a couple days later and noticed on the way down that the whole western side slid within those 3 days.  Hope it was natural and no one was in the area....looked bigger from the snowfield then the one we were involved with.
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