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Avalanche onto the piste takes out skiers in Fiss (2), snowHeads ski forum
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Avalanche onto the piste takes out skiers in Fiss

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Scooter in Seattle wrote:
OK, does this suggest that the North American approach to avi "control" should be considered? (Meaning, with brevity, control of the entire in-bounds area, not just pistes) Maybe I have this particular one wrong; slides can happen anywhere no matter what we do or don't do. But if this one could've been triggered by patrol if only it had been included in their scope then the answer would seem to be definitely maybe.


It would have been included in the patrol as it threatened a piste. Unfortunately patrolling/bombing doesn’t guarantee safety - even in the US
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[quote="doorman_tom"]
Steilhang wrote:
Quote:
I've taken to always wearing my beacon even if I am just mostly pounding pistes.


I'd always wondered what the point of Recco was. I'm less skeptical now.


Avalance transceivers and Recco tags are very different things. As our guide succinctly put it "Transceivers are for rescuing people. Recco tags are so the recovery team can find the other bodies.".

The advice I've always been given regarding transeivers is if you've got one, wear it, regardless of what you are/aren't planning on doing. You'd feel a bit stupid (but only for 15 minutes or so...) if you got caught in some freak on piste avalance and your transeiver was sat on your bed side table. And there's going to be a bit of guilt to live with if you were skiing safely on piste but saw someone caught in an avalance off to the side, knowing you could be helping save a life...if your transeiver was in your pocket, not back in your room.
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I saw a big one in Valmorel while having lunch, with thankfully no pistes near it - the noise was scary enough.
I also witnessed one in Flaine that was to the side of the piste I was skiing on that was far smaller but still worrying enough

Hope everyone is safe
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Quote:

You'd feel a bit stupid (but only for 15 minutes or so...)

Laughing Were any skiers in fact "taken out" by this avalanche? I wasn't clear, from the video.
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pam w wrote:
Were any skiers in fact "taken out" by this avalanche? I wasn't clear, from the video.


Yes, two. And a few snow cannons.
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@pam w, There were a couple of skiers on that steeper section, who didn't see it, and reacted very late. One was caught mid way down, the other seemed to fall in that slight dip . Fortunately, they were both pushed by the front edge, and the slide was slowed by the uphill part. Both got up and clear very quickly on foot.

Luckily, they were on the left, where the slide was not as as severe. It took out 4 snow making jets on the other side. What looked to be other skiers in the middle of the slide was actually the the protective paddings.

Their natural reaction was to run down the slope, towards other skiers, which would have put them in more danger had there been any further slides.
They might have been safer going to the other side of that piste, but probably weren't thinking logically at the time. I've never been in that situation, so don't know how I would have reacted.
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Mjit wrote:
...e. And there's going to be a bit of guilt to live with if you were skiing safely on piste but saw someone caught in an avalance off to the side, knowing you could be helping save a life...if your transeiver was in your pocket, not back in your room.
You'd be needing a shovel and probe too, then. And you probably ought not to be out alone at all.
And certainly not with a working video camera, which interferes with the signal. It sounds like an internet purity spiral to me.

I was wondering when the videographer was going to head over to help, but you can't really see the terrain or the risks of further slides,
and in fact they did head over pretty quickly. As someone pointed out, videoing something like that is useful, which is counter-intuitive.

I've seen "in progress" slides in the back country and seen a few [deliberately] skier-cut releases including one
with a meter plus crown, which was scary. I've never seen an "in progress" slide at a resort as far as I remember.

If you're "controlling" slide risk on the piste, obviously you're going to have to bomb stuff which isn't on the piste.
That's the same in North America and the EU.
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I found this article which has a photo of the whole slide.

https://www.vol.at/riesige-nassschnee-lawine-ergiest-sich-auf-skipiste/7338260
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@philwig, …absolutely re digital hash….

https://www.tetongravity.com/story/ski/How-Electronics-Interfere-With-Avalanche-Transceivers-6497429
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I've been in one minor slide, whilst off piste, which was mercifully small. Will never forget the sight of the slope crazing and suddenly sliding though; fortunately it was only the top 10-15cm so it just slid over my skis without knocking me over.

However, have seen several in many locations and also skied extensively with an instructor who had to dig people out of a major slide in Valmorel which impinged on the piste.

She persuaded me to always wear my transceiver ... just in case ... since it's a minor inconvenience to carry it but a major benefit in the event of a slide where every second counts in terms of locating burials. I've never had to use it other than in practice drills but if I would hate to not have it in an emergency.
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Recognising that in ‘avalanche onto piste’ it is most likely that any affected skiers will not be wearing transceivers…
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@valais2, I was just trying to be brief about where slides can happen. I understand the physics. But I'm talking about a policy issue: should the current limits of avi control in the Alps be expanded to the NA approach? (which again, would appear to have prevented the slide in the OP)

Given your comments about climate change, with which I agree, maybe that is an additional catalyst for change in the Alps avi control space?
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BobinCH wrote:


It would have been included in the patrol as it threatened a piste. Unfortunately patrolling/bombing doesn’t guarantee safety - even in the US


Good to know, I'd hope so. No, no guarantees. But patrolling and bombing almost certainly reduce risk, or else they wouldn't do it. By how much I won't try to quantify.
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@Scooter in Seattle, …ah…that makes sense…and I think you are right, and we are beginning to see a more NA approach in Crans Montana, which notoriously is known as very avalanche prone…and more so as changes take hold. Our windows rattle from explosions through the morning, from 5am onwards, during snowfall….
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This is good … from 2014 … they indeed rattled our windows….


http://youtube.com/v/Y5E-39NrdyM
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Am I the only one who thinks I'd break the bomb budget if I were in charge? It would sound like a war!

The often dangerous work that many of these people do for us is almost universally underappreciated....as are the professionalism and guts required of them to make certain decisions.
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@Scooter in Seattle, don't they use cannons in the US? Thought I'd seen that somewhere
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Scooter in Seattle wrote:
Am I the only one who thinks I'd break the bomb budget if I were in charge? It would sound like a war!

The often dangerous work that many of these people do for us is almost universally underappreciated....as are the professionalism and guts required of them to make certain decisions.


Certainly highly skilled, risky and consequential work but oh boy they have a lot of fun throwing sticks of dynamite around!
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@Steilhang, definitely true in the past, fading fast as most of the ammo is used up and no longer manufactured. Additionally the cannons are around 60 years old and parts are scarce. There is still a vestigial cannon position visible on I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass. Crystal put a few gas-x gizmos in a few years ago, and Colorado DOT did as well.
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Quote:

Unfortunately patrolling/bombing doesn’t guarantee safety - even in the US


Of course nothing is guaranteed 100%, but in bounds slides are extremely rare, to the point you are probably more likely to die in a car crash driving to resort.

I'm not sure you could realistically implement the North American approach in Europe as the resorts are just so much bigger in size it would be a nightmare to avy control everything to the point people can confidently ski anywhere without risk. Also I'm not sure closing areas for avy control would be acceptable to Europeans.

Quote:

don't they use cannons in the US? Thought I'd seen that somewhere


Howitzers at Rodgers pass (granted that's highway control, not a resort though)
http://youtube.com/v/clI4VD2GxPg

It's arguably some of the best backcountry in BC but each morning you have to check the website to see which areas are closed for shelling.
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And….er…..when it goes wrong….


http://youtube.com/v/32b9m7CeJfQ
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Scooter in Seattle wrote:
@valais2, I was just trying to be brief about where slides can happen. I understand the physics. But I'm talking about a policy issue: should the current limits of avi control in the Alps be expanded to the NA approach? (which again, would appear to have prevented the slide in the OP)

Given your comments about climate change, with which I agree, maybe that is an additional catalyst for change in the Alps avi control space?


There may well be a need to change avi control as the climate shifts and risks change. But personally I wouldn't want European resorts to go as far as in NA - there must be impact from all the bombing, plus the cost would be astronomical. Part of being in the mountains is recognising that you are never 100% safe, just the same as you are never completely safe on the water.
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All the skiers looked fine though. I mean it didn't look like anyone got buried even though that looked like a big, unusual avalanche. Kinda gives me more confidence than anything
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Ionizingskin wrote:
All the skiers looked fine though. I mean it didn't look like anyone got buried even though that looked like a big, unusual avalanche. Kinda gives me more confidence than anything


That's because you are a troll.
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@Ionizingskin, ..that avalanche was heavy duty sh+_t and it was amazing that no one was hurt…

Tony Daffern’s excellent book contains a photo of a seemingly tiny avalanche in a small bowl in a forest. It killed one skier.

https://www.biblio.com/book/avalanche-safety-skiers-climbers-daffern-tony/d/831650985

It was many many times smaller than the one in the OP’s post
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@Ionizingskin, How did it give you any sort of confidence?

They looked like half decent intermediate skiers, but were unable to avoid it. Other than the fact that I think I could have straight lined that section of piste, I might have had the same problem.

It took out 4 snow cannons at the side of the piste, and looked to be about shoulder height when it hit the first skier, who could quite easily have been buried under several feet of snow in that dip. He was very lucky to be pushed on the front of the slide for what was probably 150-200 yards.
It was still waist height when it hit the second skier. Luckily for him it was already slowing, but still carried him 20-30 yards.

If someone had been caught by that that right hand section, which was a great deal heavier and faster, it could have been a whole different outcome.
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Saw something like this in Hochgurgl about ten years ago. I was out for a quick run before travelling (rest of friends and family decided not to go for another run) and paused near the top of a piste looking down to the side at a nice bit of off-piste. Three other guys stopped as well, got talking and they asked if I wanted to join them in the run down off-piste. Nearly did but decided not to, then made my way down the piste by myself. Much further down, I stopped for a break and looked up to see a really big slide, where I would have skied, down onto part of the piste with some people taking off their skis and running towards the slide. I was much too far below to get back up so skied down to a lift station and raised the alarm (no phone on me)- the lifties made an emergency call and a helicopter came.

Before the helicopter arrived, a woman who came to the lift station distraught to say two of her sons had been buried.

It has always stayed with me.
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@ptex, …that’s a very bad story which I have not heard before. I hope the outcome for those buried was good.

Ten years ago we had those years of very heavy dumps on insecure base.

I had to ban the kids from moving alone from chalet to chalet. We had dug the steps and paths in the garden and had two metre walls to the paths. The garden is at 35 deg and had a number of small slides, which fell into the paths. Any child would have been completely buried.
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Wow, incredible seeing that by/on a piste.

The only one I can recall previously was in Tignes (circa 4 years ago?), people may've died or were buried for a while, in a period of sustained snowfall.
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@valais2, guessing you'd have done the same with the kids here at Whistler in Jan 2020

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Steilhang wrote:
@Scooter in Seattle, don't they use cannons in the US? Thought I'd seen that somewhere


Some ski areas do - Snowbird for one - skip to 1.14 ish to see in action - we were there that season, didnt disappoint Toofy Grin


http://youtube.com/v/cO-YzPWGCyU
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