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01/28/20, 12:35 PM

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| | |-+  You think you're respecting it, but you're not
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Author Topic: You think you're respecting it, but you're not  (Read 476 times)
peteyboy
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You think you're respecting it, but you're not
« on: 01/09/20, 08:46 PM »

A good ski friend and I were booting up the final 20 vertical feet to the south sub-summit on Mt. Herman from Bagley Lakes today, positioning ourselves about ten feet back from the cornice lip.  Suddenly we were in the air, moving straight down; felt like we chined off the rock wall and I was aware of being in the air for what seemed like a good while longer - then poof - on the slope (E facing gully).  My friend got stood upright against the rock wall, unbelievably unhurt except for a hard thump on his thigh, as the double-decker bus sized cornice block exploded into pieces, ripped out the new wind-loaded snow on the top of the gully, and poured past him.  I was on the slope, moving very fast in the debris, as the snow was sliding on the refrozen rained upon underlying pack.  I swam my arms and made myself as broad and flat as I could and luckily stopped on top, about 200 VF below where I had dropped onto the slope, as the snow whizzed past me another 300 - 500 VF downhill.  A second look suggested we had fallen maybe 50 feet with the cornice block failure.  Dammit.  I thought I was far enough back.  I thought I respected cornices like I should.  Monika was my buddy.    A Glacier friend who skis Herman all the time said that cornice had sagged and developed a cleft 10 feet back - right where we booted - which was blown in like a crevasse, completely disguised.  Wow, we got lucky.  If the cornice bomb had made the snowpack fail deeper, we wouldn't be here.  Such a lesson, survived, will never be forgotten.


* IMG_4324.JPG (753.04 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 395 times.)

* IMG_4325.JPG (863.87 KB, 1000x525 - viewed 391 times.)
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peteyboy
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Re: You think you're respecting it, but you're not
« Reply #1 on: 01/09/20, 08:52 PM »

The second picture shows our skin track, which had continued up to where there are remnants of our crossways ski tracks, where we transitioned.  We were a couple feet above those tracks when it failed - removing part of our approach.  The other tracks just to the right (west) are a couple's downtracks.
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peteyboy
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Re: You think you're respecting it, but you're not
« Reply #2 on: 01/09/20, 08:55 PM »

You can see the windlip of the cornice to the north end (below) and the south end (above where it failed) - the block that pulled out was basically a straight line connecting them.  That's how wide it was.  The pictures don't show how far down it was to the slope.
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Micah
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Re: You think you're respecting it, but you're not
« Reply #3 on: 01/09/20, 09:58 PM »

That sounds scary as hell! Glad you are OK.
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jtack
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Re: You think you're respecting it, but you're not
« Reply #4 on: 01/19/20, 07:09 AM »

Phew! Another cautionary tail of a cornice failure, I always try and remember these stories. Thanks for the reminder, so glad both of you are here to tell the tail.
« Last Edit: 01/19/20, 05:40 PM by jtack » Logged
Snowboy
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Re: You think you're respecting it, but you're not
« Reply #5 on: 01/19/20, 02:16 PM »

Thank you for sharing. Serves as a powerful reminder for us all.

Grateful you guys got out unscathed.
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Randy
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Re: You think you're respecting it, but you're not
« Reply #6 on: 01/19/20, 07:06 PM »

Thanks for sharing.  Glad you were only scared.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: You think you're respecting it, but you're not
« Reply #7 on: 01/19/20, 07:40 PM »

Thanks for sharing your story. Glad you're okay!
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