Near Miss: Turnagain

Location: Petes North

Sat, February 11th, 2012
2 skiers caught, 1 partially buried (uninjured) and 1 fully buried (concussion).
Accident Report

This remotely triggered avalanche caught, carried and buried two skiers ascending an up-track on the westerly aspects of Petes North ridge near treeline. One partially buried (uninjured) and one fully buried (concussion).

The avalanche was remotely triggered by a skier from a safe, flat, ridged section of the slope just above treeline. That person felt a “collapse” which propagated to a higher elevation adjacent 37-40+ degree slope and the avalanche resulted. Five skiers were stopped at this safe area and two were still hiking up in lower angle terrain below.

The debris overran a shallow depression and was deposited on a sub-ridge/bench terrain feature with sparse trees. The two skiers still hiking were in this lower angled terrain when the debris caught them. They were believed to have been carried 150-200′ with one skier partially buried and one fully buried. The latter was buried under just inches to, at most, 1 foot of snow and wedged against a small tree. The five remaining skiers mounted an excellent quick and efficient rescue. Beacons were used to locate the skier fully buried when one person noticed a hand. At this point, they were able to clear the airway and the skier was able to breathe on their own. It was estimated to take as little as 3 minutes, but possibly more, from the time of the avalanche to clearing the airway. The skier partially buried was able to dig most of himself out and help with the rescue of his partner. Both buried skiers were able to ski out on their own power.