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Author Topic: Crystal 12/18/12  (Read 40685 times)
Joedabaker
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Crystal 12/18/12
« on: 12/18/12, 06:08 PM »

Big Frenzy before and out of the gate.
Amazing well placed powder gave no resistance to the legs.
North Opened super late 2:15ish-Still more frenzy than I like. I looked like the start of a cross country ski race with 20 national teams all at the start.
Lift was not running so we had to exit the I-5 Trail.
Unfortunately† there was a gathering on the trail just after the Stump Patch cutoff and well before O-Meadows.
Freak avalanche occurred about 30 feet above the I-5 trail and swept a gal into a tree well.
SUPER BIG KUDOS to the team of skiers/boarders who helped extricate her after what I would have assumed at least 10 min to possibly 15 min burial!
When searchers spotted an appendage they still were moving 2+ feet of snow to get her cleared.
Way to carry the gear everyone! Probes and shovels everywhere! I don't think the victim had a beacon. But there was some fear that there was still one more burial in the mess. So the patrol arrived with the avy dogs to search. Everyone on the trail had to back up at least 50 to 100ft so the dogs could do their work. I think they were going to probe the area once after the dogs searched.
The crown was min 12" and what I would say 40 maybe 50 ft wide with propagating cracks extending wider. It ran down maybe 40 feet. Must have triggered sympathetically or from the weight loaded on the slope from traversing skiers on the single track out-This was NOT skier triggered from above.†
Once again I was impressed by those who had the gear and responded quickly, so many non-patrol searchers casing the area was impressive.
But super freaky in the benign location the avy occurred.
Ski safe out there! you never know!
« Last Edit: 12/18/12, 06:13 PM by Joedabaker » Logged
kneel turner
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #1 on: 12/18/12, 06:38 PM »

Yeah, was a great day. Didn't get to stay long enough for a NW lap, but thoughts of LA trees will take place of counting sheep tonight.

Highlight of the day:
My buddy and I were loading REX on our first trip up the Mt.† Plopped down, and recognized a voice to my left. Hey, Joedabaker, "What's up?!" Hello's and powder pleasantries exchanged.
About halfway up REX my buddy and I start discussing our options for first run.† Bear pits?† † Frontside?† † Lazy entrance to exterminator? What to do? The powder frenzy had taken control of us.
I noticed Joe sitting pole position on the chair, slightly shaking his head side to side, eyes staring unfocused on the slope in front of us.† A short pause, and then he looks up.
"Ed.† You can do better than that"...
Thanks for the motivation, Joe.† Grin
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No, I'm not a telephone solicitor.† I ski with my heels free.
CMSkier
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #2 on: 12/18/12, 06:48 PM »

Off the hook going down, huge lines going up. Till Six opened and Rex line disappeared. Never felt the bottom of the pow, even on my 74mm waisted skis. Gave Six 2 hours for the horde to dissipate, but it was still a 20 minute line, still lots of untracked to be had. Best snow of the year and maybe many years. The snow was tracked out at the end but nice cut pow leftovers. A crowd that would make a saturday in january proud still left quantities of untracked nearly all day. We left just as Northway opened. Sounds like a scary scene on I5. There were lots of spooky tree wells everywhere, glad everything came out OK. Be more careful than I was when I briefly lost my buds in the billows of pow. See ya tomorrow.
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« Last Edit: 12/19/12, 07:35 AM by CMSkier » Logged

Kkz
r1de
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #3 on: 12/18/12, 07:09 PM »

Wow, great report with a great outcome.
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-bp
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #4 on: 12/18/12, 07:38 PM »

I donít know what more to add; this was one of those days you dream about. First run of the day was Door 1 with not a track in sight except for 2 Patrol cuts. Snow flying and sloughing around me, no firmness underneath, no bumps, it was heaven on earth.
Mistake of the day was to try Paradise Bowl when NW opened. I missed the word that the chair was closed and was stopped for the thankfully, successful rescue. Patrol, skiers, boarders and one avie dog were all doing what needed to be done to help or stay out of the way, so kudos to the whole CM community. My intention was to exit run on Employee Housing and when I looked up at it from the I5 trail, it would have been sweet. Am I just too greedy?
Reminder lesson for the day is, donít put your gloves on the top of the car. I spotted 3 on the Boulevard and another on 410. Elk were at Buck Creek turnoff in the morning and evening.
No soup report. Are you kidding? Glad I was not forced to go to Maui for Christmas!
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Team Wally
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #5 on: 12/18/12, 07:51 PM »

Yeah, what they said. Gonzo goodness to be had all over mountain. True the comments on crowds and pow fever, very unruly at times on approaches and particularly in lift ques. I wasn't aware of a Euro vibe taking hold at Crystal. Is there a vaccination ? I am beginning to think the Powder Clown Posse has the proper idea, now to get my hike on. Brok Cheddar soup again. I think the red stuff in the chili is wheat paste and red dye #2. I was told the buffalo chili at Rafters was gluten free, except for the beer they flavor it with. Crystal staff really performed well under pressure today, what with lots of snow, power issues and crowd control. I would encourage all of you to use all your sick days now to allow for uncrowded slopes in January. Looking forward to the next few days, storm cycle should provide free refills thru the weekend.
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freightrainer
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #6 on: 12/18/12, 08:47 PM »

Good reporting Joe. I think you pretty much nailed the facts on the Northway Avalanche. Peter and I were in front with two other skiers when we heard the "whomp" and turned around to see the avalanche. I kept my eyes on the girl who was buried to her neck in the flow when I spotted her. She disappeared under the snow and behind some trees so I really couldn't tell where she ended up but we turned around immediately and headed into the slide path to turn beacons on and start probing. I don't think the crowd on the following side of the slide knew what happened since they just stood on the ski path for a few moments without moving. This story ended well but I  think there was quite a bit of luck involved. The girl wasn't wearing a beacon and was found by probing the uphill side of all of the trees in the path. Beacon searches were almost useless and provided many false positive readings. Even though many of us shouted to turn beacons to "search", I suspect that there were beacons left on transmit that created the false signals.
Peter and I were both getting readings at the bottom of the slide which was incredibly frustrating.
The search was frantic and I think that you are correct that it was about 10 minutes before she was located. The digging itself took at least 5 minutes more.
I heard her say that she was able to push her arm out to get some air so the snow must not have consolidated to much.
The usual lessons can be taken from this:
We felt since we were on the road out that we were out of any danger - not so.
Always have your beacon turned on.
Practice getting your beacon out and searching.
Probing seems completely futile when you are doing it.
Beacons are worthless if everyone in the area doesn't have there beacon in "search" mode.
I think this story has a happy ending largely by chance.

Any other thoughts on this?
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Trolleyman
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #7 on: 12/18/12, 08:59 PM »

Thank goodness there were people there to save her and everyone got home safe today.  Crystal needs to step up to the plate on a day like yesterday. Once again Crystal wasn't prepared for the crowds. Same thing happenned  last year. Lifts openning late,no ropes and minimal shuttle service.One would have to question why they don't concentrate on opening Northway before Campbell to accomodate more skiable terrain. Snow was great but what an insult to open North and not have lift running.
« Last Edit: 12/19/12, 08:07 AM by Trolleyman » Logged
Bandit
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #8 on: 12/19/12, 10:58 AM »

Not defending Crystal Mt or their management, but when you get the heavy snowfall within the past few days, it takes a tremendous effort to open the "Whole" mountain. I worked as a Lift Op for a few years. Just the amount of shoveling the chairs out takes hours. Then you must consider the avy work. Give the folks a break. They bust their humps to open the mountain. Do you know why? Because the employees want to get out and get the powder as much as the paying public.

If you don't believe me, work as a Lift Op for one season, especially a season with heavy snowfall. Just ask the Lift Ops at Baker what they go through each season.


* CH_6_Loading.JPG (136.23 KB, 800x600 - viewed 3089 times.)
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its_grand
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #9 on: 12/19/12, 11:16 AM »

Crystal newbie so can't really comment on the service, although it did seem like quite a cluster with everyone trying to gauge when N. Way would open from 10 AM and getting mixed signals from staff. The snow quality and untracked lines were probably some of the best I've ever had so definitely worth the crowds, getting run into a few times, etc. Met a guy named Steve on the GV lift that knew the mtn well and he was nice enough to show me around some of the less beaten areas. Also learned to not attempt going directly right off the high Campbell chair....that could have been ugly, but escaped with mild embarrassment and a face plant. †

One interesting pt to note was around 2 PM I was about to board Queens and the liftie mentioned that N. Way was open. So I went and lined up with about 100 others for the rope to drop. As the patroller was dropping the rope he also mentioned that we would need to take 'I-5' to the road and catch the shuttle, thumb it back up. Not being familiar with the resort I spoke to a few people, mentioned I was skiing solo and they were Ok with me joining their group. We trekked out a bit further and started to descend through deep, untracked that I thought was going towards I-5. However, someone in the group was still optimistic that NW would open so we ended up at that chair. A few dudes asked if I wanted to head down to the 'old N. Way' chair, but not having avy gear nor knowing the terrain did not feel comfortable. So we're at the N. W chair, prob 2:45ish along with a few patrollers and lifties that are giving us some options....which at 1st did not include riding the chair back up. But after about 10 mins of waiting there and several radio communications they decided to start the lift and gave us a ride up. After 15 of us departed the lift, with a few more circulating near the top patrol said conditions were still too dangerous and lift would be closed for remainder of day. Speculating that word of the avalanche was received when we were at NW lift so they decided to give us a ride up and another option down. Great to hear the girl was rescued and tragedy averted.

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Bandit
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #10 on: 12/19/12, 11:31 AM »

"Also learned to not attempt going directly right off the high Campbell chair"

That is why the Lift Ops set up the orange markers.....


* Orange_Markers.JPG (81.36 KB, 800x600 - viewed 3063 times.)
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CMSkier
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #11 on: 12/19/12, 12:49 PM »

Since the mountaintop was closed today, added some video of yesterday.
Video
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Kkz
Joedabaker
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #12 on: 12/19/12, 04:05 PM »

"Ed.† You can do better than that"...
Thanks for the motivation, Joe.† Grin

I always have faith in you Ed!


Any other thoughts on this?

Awesome effort by you guys!
It looked like a hoar frost slide and that Whoomp kinda is tale tell of that...

One thing that has kinda been in my mind since the avy event is that we had a pretty good contingency of probe carrying people on hand. I would say at least 20+ probes available. There was a lot of commotion to turn off beacons or to receive and basically getting people out of the way of the people probing and digging around, yelling to turn off becons or to send.
When there was question of a second victim. It seemed to me that an organized probe line would have been faster and more effective than waiting additional time for the avy dogs to show up.
I know that the avy dogs are particularly fast at sniffing out victims. (hence the reason I put cooked bacon in my ski jacket. I call it "Avalanche Bacon"
There is a time line that another victim could suffocate and seconds count.† I really think with some quick organization we could have probed the whole area in 10mins and been done with it.
Quick decisions need to be made, 10 mins passed before patrol arrived and another 10 plus before the dogs showed up. I felt that patrol did a great job of controlling the mass, getting questions answered about what happened and if everyones partners were accounted for and organizing movement so the area was not contaminated by probing so the dogs would not get false positives. But on the other hand, the threat of more avalanching in the slide zone was minimal. So if we had a 20 person probe line we would have covered the area pretty quickly since the snow is not that deep and those seconds could have saved a life if there was another victim before the dogs showed up.
It really is interesting to weigh the options given the circumstance. I observed others who were frustrated that we were not getting a probe line going too. I have had my share of experience when the stove gets hot in the BC so this time it was interesting to be engaged while observing the nature of myself and people in crisis mode.
 
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CMSkier
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #13 on: 12/19/12, 04:29 PM »

Quote
It seemed to me that an organized probe line would have been faster and more effective than waiting additional time for the avy dogs to show up.
I know that the avy dogs are particularly fast at sniffing out victims. (hence the reason I put cooked bacon in my ski jacket. I call it "Avalanche Bacon"

On a Gondy ride with Crystal's Avie Dog trainers last year they said the dogs were specifically trained to ignore the smells of food/bacon so as not to get distracted. Not washing your long underwear might be a better strategy.

Kim K posted that it was 5 minutes before anyone even called the ski patrol. Seems like an immediate call for reinforcements would always be a good idea.
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Kkz
steepdeeply
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #14 on: 12/19/12, 07:38 PM »

Crystal patrol emergency # 360 663 3064, put it in your phone. Don't call 911, it takes them too long to figure out who to call.
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freightrainer
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #15 on: 12/20/12, 08:38 AM »

I had a helmet cam on for the ski down through gate 4 and pretty much forgot that it was on for the "whomp" and the search. It took just over 10 minutes to find her from the time she was buried in the slide:

http://youtu.be/JAdR99YMB0U

The probing was pretty random and I agree with Joe that an organized probe line would have been the right thing to do. Every group needs one really bossy type to organize the effort!
We were also just a group of people who skied through the gate at the same time and there were many skiers without partners so it was impossible to do a head count.
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oftpiste
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #16 on: 12/20/12, 09:10 AM »

I'm kinda sad there's no mention in the media, including heads shots from crustal and the victim, that the rescue was performed by you guys. I know you didn't do it for glory, but patrol seems to be taking the credit.
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Joedabaker
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #17 on: 12/20/12, 09:21 AM »

Pretty impressive footage Steve!
As said before VERY IMPRESSIVE ACTION taken by you and the others around. Those BCA beacons sure throw the weird signals around, my old one did the same thing and I lost faith in it.
It's interesting to see it from your point of view as I was above you guys the searchers. Probe in hand standing around like a dork. At one point they wanted us all with probes to move forward and wait for the call to action. Then they had us all move back out of the way. In hind sight, I should have been an overbearing ass and organized a probe line instead of standing around observing everything.
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oftpiste
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #18 on: 12/20/12, 09:29 AM »

damn, that's an interesting watch. yikes.

I had a helmet cam on for the ski down through gate 4 and pretty much forgot that it was on for the "whomp" and the search. It took just over 10 minutes to find her from the time she was buried in the slide:

http://youtu.be/JAdR99YMB0U

The probing was pretty random and I agree with Joe that an organized probe line would have been the right thing to do. Every group needs one really bossy type to organize the effort!
We were also just a group of people who skied through the gate at the same time and there were many skiers without partners so it was impossible to do a head count.
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Marcus
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #19 on: 12/20/12, 10:15 AM »

Wow -- strong work by the everyone on scene, that's a ton of chaos.  Great to see so many skiing with rescue gear.  Awesome to have such a great outcome.
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blitz
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #20 on: 12/20/12, 01:03 PM »

Kim K posted that it was 5 minutes before anyone even called the ski patrol. Seems like an immediate call for reinforcements would always be a good idea.

In ALL the avalanche classes I have participated, when there is a burial -search first and call for help later.  Buddy rescue is your very best chance for survival.

Kudos to the rescuers for not hesitating...
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alisa
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #21 on: 12/20/12, 01:32 PM »

I had a helmet cam on for the ski down through gate 4 and pretty much forgot that it was on for the "whomp" and the search. It took just over 10 minutes to find her from the time she was buried in the slide:

http://youtu.be/JAdR99YMB0U



Thank you. This is the golden lining of the GoPro. Your video may save lives in the future.
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chieftaffy
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #22 on: 12/20/12, 05:56 PM »

Wow - awesome response folks! 
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CMSkier
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #23 on: 12/20/12, 06:24 PM »

Thank you. This is the golden lining of the GoPro. Your video may save lives in the future.

Seems to be a lot of hub-bub on the interwebs about GoPros interfering with beacons in search mode when within 18-24" of the beacon giving odd readings like seen in this search. Might be worth checking out and could be worse with newer GoPros that have wireless transmissions.
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Kkz
freightrainer
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Re: Crystal 12/18/12
« Reply #24 on: 12/20/12, 08:05 PM »

Quote
Seems to be a lot of hub-bub on the interwebs about GoPros interfering with beacons in search mode when within 18-24" of the beacon giving odd readings like seen in this search. Might be worth checking out and could be worse with newer GoPros that have wireless transmissions.

I just checked my beacon  (Tracker) and my helmet cam (Contour HD) and there doesn't appear to be any interference.
Can a signal bounce off trees? I really don't think all beacons in the area were turned to search.
I am really thinking of selling the Tracker and getting something else.
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