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That's another one of my 9 lives gone

 Poster: A snowHead
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We've probably had around 25 cms or fresh over the past 36hrs, maybe more.

And this morning viz was not good with heavy snow falling.

So arranged with KenX to meet up at Monetier as that's always a good option to ski the trees there, though still not enough snow lower down to really safely ski some of the classic tree runs.

As an aside if you Google "Best tree skiing in the World" Serre Chevalier is often up there as per this example. .

In fact we'd bumped into two Guides who had come over from La Grave, and that is how I too first discovered Serre, as is often the case when a storm is raging, Monetier is a safe option.......

Going up on the chair was obvious that we could just ski the powder on the pistes, and that we did for around five or six runs with heavy snow falling all the time, we did venture into the trees but just too many tree stumps and buried obstacles to warrant staying in them.

Then the snow stopped and the weather cleared, and as we neared the top of the first lift we could see the Cibouit chair looked a good option. As we neared the top of the chair there was an ominous warning as a skier managed to set off a little slide.

So we spaced out as we took the traverse, and then decided on a line down through the trees at no more than 25% and that was the best snow of the morning.

I then went ahead to take some photos and found myself on top of a steep drop. I waited, and then decided to drop into it and let off a load of sluff, and carried on then suddenly the sluff became a full blown slide and I thought I could ski out of it, but within a nano second I had been taken out and worse of all by leg was pinned behind a tree with my head down the hill, and then the snow rapidly started to engulf me, I really thought this could be it.

I was madly clearing the snow as it tumbled over my head aware that I had to try and clear a breathing space and not let the snow build up on top of me.

Actually I think the tree saved me as the snow went either side of it.

Once it had all stopped I had a bit of a mad panic moment trying get myself out of the ski as my leg was pinned against the tree with my knee which was being stretched quite painfully.

Then it was obvious I'd lost both a ski and a pole.

Ken and John came down and we dug for a long time but in the end I came to the conclusion that my ski and pole must have been swept down and there was no way we were going to find my ski, but they did find another ski in a tree!!!

So what would the chances be of me trying to fit into the binding of another ski, specially with touring boots on?

And said ski was so obviously a girlies ski with Roxy Bindings - however they were rental bindings and with my trusty Swiss Army knife we managed to set them up!

So I was able to ski back down through the powder and with one pole, then once we skied out we joined the piste and skied back to resort.

In hindsight what were the errors, skiing to steeper a line? But we do that in trees all the time.

I think looking at the line, one could say why amongst the trees was there that a lovely line, because it was a a classic avalanche trap and hence no trees grew there because of the frequent slides ?

Once back home, I ended up having a chat with the La Grave Guide Joe Vallone as my OH is doing a feature about La Grave with him and she mentioned I 'd just been caught, so then he wanted to speak to me and asked a whole load of questions, with him saying right from the start that he bet I was on a N/NW facing slope between 2,000 and 2,400 as he's sure that on the 31st with the very warm temps a very week crystallised sugar layer was formed and that this new snowfall was always going to slide on top of that, and that it's something he's very worried about in the terrain below P2 in La Grave where people tend to be less attentive to the conditions.

KenX took this of the slide





And my new found and lost equipment


Think I'm going to be off games for a few days as knee's quite painful, so icing it and ibuprofen, hopefully just badly bruised and a tad sprained.

Could have been so much worse!!!
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@Weathercam, Shocked take care out there
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Shocked Shocked Shocked
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Scary. Did you have an airbag and were you able to deploy it?
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Ouch!
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@cad99uk, had an airbag and did think for a moment but then thought the situation was not that bad and it was only sluff, then I got taken out and it all happened very quickly. When the snow was engulfing me did think again, but was not too sure, think it was not helped by being pinned to the tree - in hindsight I should have pulled it on both times I thought about it, because if there had been far more snow flowing down over me I could have well be in the proverbial and pulling the trigger it could have created a sort of cave for me giving me a clear airway, as I was sort of twisted on to my front.
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@Weathercam, if you had popped the bag you could have been carried along by the snow and mangled in the trees.
As to why, you might have answered that. You decided that you would stick to 25%, then "dropped in"..
Two major bits of good luck, if you count finding a ski! Pity the poor girl who had to ski out on your scott.
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@Weathercam, Thanks. Difficult decisions to make in a split second. Hope your knee improves quickly.
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That tree was your friend today Very Happy

Makes a change.......... Laughing
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Hope that knee heals quickly Gavin. Bad luck.
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I guess the drop in, punched through to the crystallised sugar layer and triggered the slide, a bit like performing a ski cut.

If the ski is marked with the rental shop, it would be interesting to find out the other half the story.........
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Sounds like an avalung would have been good go have?
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Thanks for your cautionary tale. You're right about many of us skiing that steepness of pitch in trees without the consideration we might give to an open face. Food for thought. Glad you're OK. Bonus point for the girly ski, you should ski that 'pair' every now and then as a reminder.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I like the Rossi - looks like a good look for you if you can find a matcher.

Glad you made it out
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Funny.... we spoke to you in the trees today (and your buddy at the bottom)
Stopped for a short chat whilst you were looking for the ski.
Stonking day, though steeper pitches over 30 degrees were certainly suspect.
Glad there was happy ending with no harm done.
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@Haggis_Trap, aaahhhh heard the Scottish voices, exclaiming how you'd gone too far down to get back to the lift Toofy Grin

That's always the compromise of skiing off the Cibouit, to get the better lines / untracked you have to go all the way down, if you carry on traversing and take the real steeps in the trees you come out on the run-out that you end up doing after Montagnolle

Suspect you've had a good night after the rugby Cool

Knee feeling slightly better after a couple of pints and a couple of miles walking to and from the Frog.
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@Haggis_Trap, Hi, yes, I just waited in the sunshine at the bottom while the others exhausted themselves looking (and finding!!!) skis, good to meet you Very Happy
Meant to ask you, do you know a guy called Keith Hill, ski patroller? Spent a couple of seasons with him in Zermatt back in the day!
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Weathercam, glad it turned out ok in the end.

I thought Dougie would have been digging for your wallet!!

wink
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Time of day?
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@Weathercam, glad you're ok.

Weathercam wrote:
.......I've used Resqski but did think it was a wee bit of a hassle.....

rolling eyes




Toofy Grin
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Fascinating, and slightly scary tail.

Glad to hear your doing OK.
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@Weathercam, thanks for sharing and glad no terrible harm was done. Looks like a localised bare patch without trees that wasn't pinned well enough to hold the snow pack. Same thoughts about the Airbag as above; if you get caught in trees you're more screwed than normal unless you end up being swept down a tree-free path (that situation was realised in a very good piece in the NYT about the Stevens Pass avi that sadly killed one of the FWT judges a few years ago). You don't have much luck with losing Scotts do you? Wink

@spyderjon, strong bants mate Toofy Grin
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Shocked holy hell! lucky you to find that second ski. Laughing . Still though I am glad you are ok, sorry to hear about your knee, but considering what happened lucky you are able to ice it .
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Weathercam wrote:
@Haggis_Trap, aaahhhh heard the Scottish voices, exclaiming how you'd gone too far down to get back to the lift Toofy Grin

That's always the compromise of skiing off the Cibouit, to get the better lines / untracked you have to go all the way down, if you carry on traversing and take the real steeps in the trees you come out on the run-out that you end up doing after Montagnolle

Suspect you've had a good night after the rugby Cool

Knee feeling slightly better after a couple of pints and a couple of miles walking to and from the Frog.


Having read the story feeling guilty we didnt stop to assist.
Dont know the area well, but was blown away by the amount of fun skiing to be had in monetier.
Lift shut at 1pm, so at least you got best of it wink

P.s defn layer of ice where it rained below 2400m exactly as you observed.
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KenX wrote:
@Haggis_Trap, Hi, yes, I just waited in the sunshine at the bottom while the others exhausted themselves looking (and finding!!!) skis, good to meet you Very Happy
Meant to ask you, do you know a guy called Keith Hill, ski patroller? Spent a couple of seasons with him in Zermatt back in the day!


Small world Happy
Yip, know Keith from glencoe well!
Think he is currently working over in Norway until Scotland gets some snow.
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@Weathercam, glad you're (pretty much) ok. Hope the knee recovers quickly. Thanks very much for posting - very informative.
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@spyderjon, amusing banter from the backcountry workshop of Nottingham Toofy Grin

Must admit that at one point I did think what if I had the Resqski did on, but like I said they were a bit of a faff, putting it mildly, and I think since I first had them, must have had four pairs of skis since then.

Now if I'd been on my K2 Coombacks would have been a different story, or would the ski have torn my leg off with the leash?

All the Frenchies I tour with all use leashes like this or a version of.



Knee doing an impression of a melon this morning - so have dug out the Tramadol, Diciofenac and have the trusty CyroCuff on. But me thinks at least a good week off games Crying or Very sad

Avy Bulletin for our area makes for interesting reading this morning, not least it's 4, and mention is indeed made of the rain on the 31st and "Risque accidentel : il va devenir fort dans de nombreuses pentes dès la matinée, surtout au-dessus d'environ 2000/2200m. Le passage d'un seul skieur pourra suffire à déclencher une avalanche de neige fraîche ou de plaque friable (piégeuse car d'aspect poudreux). Ces plaques sont facilement déclenchables."

So basically stick to nice mellow slopes or ski the steeps in the trees but evaluate the terrain first before committing which is easy to advise when sitting behind a screen Toofy Grin
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@Weathercam, Glad you are ok and hope the knee isn't too badly damaged. A salutary tail.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Weathercam wrote:
As an aside if you Google "Best tree skiing in the World" Serre Chevalier is often up there as per this example. .


Interesting. Never been to Rusutsu have you? snowHead
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@Haggis_Trap, Say hi to him when you see him, mention the glacier lake dive!!!!!!
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Bloody hell, Joe Vallone just gone and used my pics (he asked me to send them to him) in a long post on his FaceBook

I'm hesitant to post as I received so much criticism last year for this very thing. I was even told by local businesses last year that my posts were bad for business. Unfortunately folks were killed the next day after I took down my warning and we had one of the biggest near misses we have ever seen locally. But as I prefer my friends and safety to money I will share this.

Two days ago I posted about a critical problem in the snowpack. I mentioned all the clues without giving it away as it is a conflict of interest for me to post publicly about avi problems in our unique environment. I received an anonymous phone call yesterday, someone told me about their close call. On the phone I guessed the elevation aspect and problem without him telling me. I have been tracking it for 5 days now and today it will be more sensitive and reactive then yesterday.

For those of you that are sleeping or even those of you that shrugged me off in the last days for mentioning this very problem, here are some anonymous photos of a close call yesterday. Less then 24 hours after my warning. Victim was saved by being pinned helplessly against a tree.

It is easy to identify and easy to avoid.

I don't want my page to go back to avalanche warnings and observations as it is a conflict of interest to business and even the decisions by our superiors in la grave, but today I have that butterfly in my stomach for my friends that have impatiently waited for snow. It's early season shallow snowpack, but gonna be deep today. Take care of each other and practice safe travel techniques. Remember our domain is uncontrolled and rescue is not guaranteed. Familiarity and complacency is your worst enemy.

Ski and ride responsibly.

Photos from yesterday.

I hope I don't get yelled at for sharing critical information but if I do, I'll accept my mistake.
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Weathercam wrote:
......Now if I'd been on my K2 Coombacks would have been a different story, or would the ski have torn my leg off with the leash? All the Frenchies I tour with all use leashes like this or a version of.....

One of the problems with a fixed leash in that the ski is gonna stay with you in a slide - which is why the B&D leash has a shear link within it which will snap with that amount of load applied to it thus freeing you from your 'anchor'.

You could make your own by adding in a 60lb breaking strain loop of fishing line in to your Dynafit leash connection but as that leash is so short there's still a chance that it would snap in a regular fall with the potential for a lost ski. That's why the B&D leash is a lot longer so that it gives a gradual deceleration in a fall plus they extend enough to allow you to fix/remove skins without taking the skins off.
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@spyderjon, and no doubt thoroughly tested in the back country of Nottingham Toofy Grin

Though I might well investigate them Cool

Do you have them in stock ?
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@Weathercam, I've had them on my quiver for 3-4 seasons now, they work as advertised. Just mount the bases on all your skis, and move the active tags between them (or buy a couple of pairs of tags, and cut down on the swapping). I haven't tested them to find a ski buried 2m down in avalanche concrete, but they work in every other test I've tried. Well enough for me to make them worth the alleged 'hassle' of using them. You might only need them on 1 run in a 1000 or more, but you have to admit the odds of your group finding a rental binding ski in your search zone must have been well in excess of 1 in 1000.

The batteries are supposed to last for a seasons use, but for the cost of £5 worth of batteries, change them every year.
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@Weathercam, glad to hear you survived that, must been a tad scary!! That pick KenX took it seems to have a blue "tint" to the area that slid, was it a solid icy base that hadn't bonded at all??
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@PowderAdict, I did use them for a couple of seasons and was not that impressed, with various transmission / receiving problems, they did send me some new units - they are still in the garage somewhere. Also had the mountings on two sets of skis so I'm fully aware of how you can change over etc

Trouble is my incident was not your usual lost ski in powder as it was probably carried a long way down - around 50ms or so maybe more, though initially we did try looking in the immediate vicinity, but was not till I saw the photo of the slide way after did I really appreciate how big the slide was.

Like I said, looks like I'll be going back up there as soon as my knee is better, taking a GPS reading of the area, and then back up in the summer.

@Haggis_Trap, don't suppose you or your mate were logging a GPS track yesterday.
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Wow, lucky escape, it sounds terrifying. Hope your knee gets better soon.
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kitenski wrote:
@Weathercam, glad to hear you survived that, must been a tad scary!! That pick KenX took it seems to have a blue "tint" to the area that slid, was it a solid icy base that hadn't bonded at all??


One of the the lower layers was pretty cyrstalised and icey from memory when digging with Weathercam, larger than the usual sugar example given, more peppercorn sized.
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Yes that's the layer Joe Vallone was worried about, that emanated from the warm temps and rain at the beginning of the week and then subsequent freeze.

As we're in dialogue with him I might ask would he ever envisage the two layers bonding and over what period of time.

Been snowing all day here, so you can add another 20cm to that top layer!
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Weathercam wrote:
@spyderjon, and no doubt thoroughly tested in the back country of Nottingham Toofy Grin ?

Laughing

Actually designed/made in the US & tested in Mammoth, Tahoe & Truckee by a bunch of TGR dudes.

Weathercam wrote:
Though I might well investigate them Cool

Do you have them in stock?


Yep.

PM me your address & I'll send you pair to use/evaluate. If you like them then pay me, if not just post 'em back.

I reckon you'll like 'em & with the current £/€ rate we can clean up floggin' 'em to your Frenchy touring club mates.
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