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| |-+  Weak Layers: decision making in avalanche terrain
| | |-+  February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
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Author Topic: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche  (Read 38779 times)
avajane
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February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« on: 02/23/14, 12:24 PM »

Just saw an avalanche observation in NWAC about an avalanche with a 10' crown that came off the north face of Chair Peak and traveled 1900'. Three skiers were partially buried, but I guess uninjured. I'd like to see this report on here...
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Brian Izdepski, Facebook TAY
prestonf
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #1 on: 02/23/14, 01:36 PM »

Well, I'm sure info will make its way out.  Maybe NWAC will do a report?  In the meantime, I don't think the folks involved owe the internet anything if they don't feel like it.  Sounds scary.  Glad no one was injured!!
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silaswild
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #2 on: 02/23/14, 01:59 PM »

http://www.livingsnoqualmie.com/lucky-skiers-escape-avalanche-chair-peak-near-snoqualmie-pass/
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #3 on: 02/23/14, 02:17 PM »

In the meantime, I don't think the folks involved owe the internet anything if they don't feel like it.

Agreed. Even if the party does decide to post about it, there's no rush.

Super glad only skis were lost; hope no one else was below along frequently-traveled routes.

Thanks to those (perhaps the party itself) who reported the slide to NWAC for getting the word out.
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freeski
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #4 on: 02/23/14, 03:36 PM »

Is chair peak concidered a safe treed terrain or a hazzardous avy terrain objective?
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"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
Marcus
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #5 on: 02/23/14, 03:39 PM »

If I'm guessing right, this is the slope that slid.  Skiers were perhaps on the bench/ridge lower left?
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avajane
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #6 on: 02/23/14, 04:35 PM »

Is chair peak concidered a safe treed terrain or a hazzardous avy terrain objective?

One mans safe...

Not the kind of position I would intentionally put myself in right now. I'm skinning roads, hiding in trees, and skiing low angle ridge lines. Yesterday it sucked - today I found fantastic snow. There is good stuff to be found in relatively safe areas, but I guess you have to know where they are.
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Brian Izdepski, Facebook TAY
aaron_wright
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #7 on: 02/23/14, 05:16 PM »

Is that the normal route those folks are taking? That seems really cavalier, the crossloading on that slope is screaming at them. Wouldn't it be safer to climb to the small saddle above them and traverse just under the cliffs? I don't know that area.
If I'm guessing right, this is the slope that slid.  Skiers were perhaps on the bench/ridge lower left?

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Marcus
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #8 on: 02/23/14, 05:22 PM »

I've only been up there once or twice, so others can weigh in, but the typical approach to that ridge is out of frame to the lower left and not in the line of fire from that cliff and the cross-loaded slope.  The approach path to where this picture was taken is pretty steep and open in its own right, though perhaps less exposed than the pictured terrain.
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Squakmtn
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #9 on: 02/23/14, 07:44 PM »

My guess is the slide started above the folks in the picture posted by Marcus and then ran down the low angle rolling terrain that ends at a very prominent bench which is the top of a large cliff band about 400' above Snow Lake.  There is a chute that drops through that cliff band and on down to the lake and it sounds like the skiers were near the entrance to that chute when the slide happened coming at them from above.  The article linked by Marcus said "Fortunately it banked left of the mountain" which I interpret to mean that they were very lucky it didn't sweep them over that cliff to the lake...

When conditions are right, skiing that chute to the lake can be sublime but it is an obvious major avy path which should be avoided when hazard is considerable.
« Last Edit: 02/23/14, 08:12 PM by Squakmtn » Logged

Squak MountainEars
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T. Eastman
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #10 on: 02/23/14, 08:03 PM »

Ya think?
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freeski
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #11 on: 02/23/14, 09:22 PM »

Remember,There is no shame in not understanding our current, complex snow pack and making a bad call,except when we pretend we were making a good call and a delancey d3 came down.
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"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
Griff
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #12 on: 02/23/14, 09:31 PM »

Skied the east side of chair with my son yesterday. About 10 different  groups out. Snow felt solid yet that was the surface snow.

The route through Bryant colouir is the normal route and is where the skiers are in the pics. You really can't make that bench due to hazard on the other side.

I am glad no one was killed below them at the lake. Some friends headed that way at noon.

My takeaway is that one just never knows, especially with the weird winter we have seen. 
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T. Eastman
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #13 on: 02/23/14, 10:19 PM »

... so essentially playing roulette is cool as long as you are lucky...
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Snoqualmonix
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #14 on: 02/24/14, 12:42 AM »

Just wanted to offer a few clarifying points and some other food for thought since there's still much incomplete info we're speculating on.

Chair peak is just over 6200', the living snoqualmie story (which is written by a local blogger here in the valley, and though a great piece of sometimes local news/gossip, is not a stand alone source of news) stated the slide ran from 6200' on the north aspect.  If this is accurate this means the north face, a popular alpine climbing route, went above the party.  And if this is accurate, they were trapped in an exposed area which had greater consequences for them than the slope/slab/angle/tress vs. open slope we're quick to jump to. 

After enjoying the storm of the season here last week, I had the good fortune to spend the last two day in the baker bc while teaching some courses that heavily discussed red flags and terrain selection.  If this party's observations were similar to mine, there might have been different days in which they were shocked by the stability observed and tested relative to obvious flags created from the storm #'s and avy forecast and as such, used their judgement and experience to venture beyond the 20 degree woods.  If if this has any accuracy, then a reminder is good for all of us that terrain traps live heavily above us too.  But then again, I am also speculating.

Griff, sorry brother, but your geography's a bit off.  Skiers in photo are under the NE buttress of chair, venturing out under north face.  They would have come from chair east basin (above source), which is behind them and down a few 100'.  Bryant couloir leaves from source basin, but can take you up and around behind chair (if doing clockwise circumnav).  None of those zones around Source/Chair east basin should be considered "safe" to play in by any stretch of the imagination, but instead a shooting gallery of 5+ active slide paths IMO.  I do agree that one never knows, that's the magic of it when the science stops!  Glad you and the flying kid were out getting after it, perhaps ill see you before the April powder storms this year!

Be safe y'all, study hard, look for yourself and point your tips and be brave!
« Last Edit: 02/24/14, 07:58 AM by alpine-earth » Logged

-----------------
"Point your tips and be brave"

If someone skis in the Cascades and doesn't post on the internet, did it even happen?
Griff
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #15 on: 02/24/14, 10:21 AM »

Thanks Morgan. I thought I might be a bit off, was just trying to orientate myself. Appreciate you setting the record straight for all......and me. LOL.

We had a great time on the east side of Chair on Saturday, take a look.

Oh it sounds like G is taking another class this spring at the club. COOL!! Maybe I will come down and get in to shape. UGH!


* Graham_-_CPB.png (98.79 KB, 458x258 - viewed 1939 times.)
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mattgoyer
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #16 on: 02/24/14, 12:05 PM »

Here's the accident report: http://www.nwac.us/observations/pk/101/
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alpentalcorey
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #17 on: 02/24/14, 12:53 PM »

Did the slide really happen at midnight?  Or perhaps that's when everyone finally got out and things got reported?  Seems an odd time/place to be out there, though I remember thinking about trying to do something like that with headlamps on both wrists and thighs.  Never really made it happen.
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Mattski
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #18 on: 02/24/14, 12:54 PM »

Some key details that exceed most observations we make:
  • 10'crown-skier impact maxes out at 3' down
  • [li]Snowpack observations and tests rarely go deeper than 6'

    This slab might represent the entire recent storm snow at and above treeline in the Snoq Pass zone where there is no telemetry to look for actual storm totals and winds. This might be similar to the very large slides that came off the Shuksan arm in the 98/99 season which ran multiple times and the MLK crust from that season. The crust posed the risk of large storms lingering until they were 8-15' deep then failed naturally.

    Very difficult to understand the circumstances of the group's position and decision making without a firsthand account. It does speak to the issue of terrain choice right now regarding at and above treeline North facing terrain with a deeply buried raincrust with large storm & wind slabs now above.
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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #19 on: 02/24/14, 01:07 PM »

Did the slide really happen at midnight? 

If you look at the rest of the list,

http://www.nwac.us/observations/

every event occurs at "midnight", perhaps an artifact of the underlying data structure. In the comments for the Chair Peak slide, they lead off with "12:00 PM", presumably noon-ish.

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alpentalcorey
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #20 on: 02/24/14, 02:15 PM »

Thanks, that makes more sense.
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ps44
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #21 on: 02/24/14, 02:25 PM »

... so essentially playing roulette is cool as long as you are lucky...

I agree with this sentiment.  The north side of Chair Peak in my opinion is a no go zone after recent massive snowfall, without giving the snowpack a day or two (or a week) to consolidate, and with possible buried unstable layers.

The area above Source Lake towards the Chair Peak should be treated very cautiously; I have seen massive debris piles filling up the entire Source Lake basin with car-sized slab chunks.  Glad everybody is alive with a story to tell...
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tabski
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #22 on: 02/24/14, 05:30 PM »

It seems to me we know more about the psychology and experience of the people commenting in this thread than the avalanche incident itself.





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Splitter
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #23 on: 02/24/14, 09:03 PM »

Based on limited facts available it appears poor decision making played a part. The rush to judgement makes me uncomfortable because I own it as much as anyone and while it may be accurate in this case, it is so easy to be wrong. Better to hold out a hand than start swinging a stick.
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JoshK
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Re: February 22, 2014, Chair Peak Large Avalanche
« Reply #24 on: 02/24/14, 10:09 PM »

Based on limited facts available it appears poor decision making played a part. The rush to judgement makes me uncomfortable because I own it as much as anyone and while it may be accurate in this case, it is so easy to be wrong. Better to hold out a hand than start swinging a stick.

Agreed. Considering the lack of reply from those involved (I refuse to believe they don't at least view this site), I would imagine there is an element of embarrassment involved that is leading them to remain quiet. Speculation, armchair QBing and the like probably won't encourage people to speak up.
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