Oaks avalanches

By Ben Allen

Date of Observation: April 11, 2019  12:40 PM
Location of Observation: Oaks gulf

At approximately 12:35 we watch a skier trigger an avalanche, it run about 200-400ft from somewhere in the airplane area of Oaks gulf. It was hard to see exactly what gully he was in. The skier appeared to be ok. We were skiing the Main Gully on the other side of oaks. Our Group at around 12:40 trigger a small avalanche just above the bend in the Main gully, we were still on the south aspect of the upper portion of the line, the steep roll was just below us and we were at tree line. That area has several skiable lines. We started to push toward the skiers right on to a lower angle slope under 30 degrees (i took a slope angle measurement 27) and the slope above us was more of a southeast aspect and steeper. At 12:45 We triggered our second avalanche. The Slope that was a above us. We trigger the slab from the bottom edge. The crown line was about 100 to 200 vertical feet above us and about 60m wide. The skier that trigger the slab was on the edge and was able to make it to and grab a clump of trees maybe 4 to 5 ft of travel, he was burial up to his waist. we recovered our friend, transited and started skin out the line we had just skied being vary careful of what was above us and the slope angle we were on. To days take way don’t under estimate our ability to trigger and release touchy wind slabs from the bottom of the slab.


ABOUT THESE OBSERVATIONS

Snowpack observations are one part of the complex puzzle which is your decision to enter avalanche terrain. Some observations may include stability tests. It’s important to understand that the results of a stability tests are seldom conclusive anywhere, but particularly in snow climates and terrain like ours where the primary driver of instabilities is wind drifted snow. Many stability tests exist and each works best with specific avalanche problem types. Stability test results should never be used alone as an indication that a slope or conditions are safe particularly when more obvious red flags are present. Please use this page as part of your information gathering process, but don’t make decisions based on a single piece of information. A good article that summarizes some of the issues associated with snow and avalanche observations can be found here.

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