Holy Massive Avy Awareness Fail - Mountain Buzz

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Old 03-14-2010   #1
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
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Holy Massive Avy Awareness Fail

I feel bad for the folks that got caught, of which some probably had no idea that they were standing in a deposition zone, but what a huge miscalculation on the part of the organizers and participants. Pretty stunning and sad.


At least three people are dead and 17 others are injured following an avalanche in the interior of British Columbia.

Among the injured, two are in critical condition, CTV News reports. Several others are still missing and a massive search operation is underway.

The avalanche occurred near Revelstoke, which is in the province's rugged interior, about 200 kilometres northeast of Kelowna.

The slide occurred as about 200 people were taking part in a large snowmobile gathering on Boulder Mountain on Saturday afternoon.

Helicopters and search dogs are currently scouring the area and the mountain has been shut down.

The snowmobiling event is known as the Big Iron Shootout.

CTV camera operator Rod Romano arrived at the avalanche scene about three minutes after the slide occurred around 3 p.m. local time.

"When I arrived there was a flurry of activity" he told CTV News.

"People were digging furiously."

He added that two people were recovered within about 12 minutes of searching.

However, he said that the avalanche was massive, and snowmobiles that were caught in the slide were carried hundreds of metres downhill.

"The debris field was extremely large," he said.

Greg Johnson from the Canadian Avalanche Centre told CTV News Channel Saturday night that the area was hit by heavy snow on Thursday and Friday, which greatly increased the danger of a slide.

"That created a substantial avalanche risk," he said.

Johnson declined to give specifics about the avalanche rescue operation, but he did say that "there is definitely a rescue underway."

The area has been hit with several avalanches in recent days.

"The Canadian Avalanche Centre is issuing a special avalanche warning for the southern Selkirk and Monashee Mountains, the Kootenay-Boundary area, and the Southern Chilcotin Mountains," states a special warning on the Centre's website.

"We've had a lot of close calls recently and, although this new snow will be tempting, the avalanche conditions in these areas will be very dangerous."

With files from The Canadian Press

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Old 03-20-2010   #2
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Yep - saw this on the TGR site as well. Sorry to be a hater, but you can't fix stupid. This isn't a case of some kids getting caught on a relatively safe line on Loveland pass and had some bad luck.

If that many people were in a depo zone and no one had the brains to figure it out, I don't have much sympathy for them.
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Old 04-02-2010   #3
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Heyburn Idaho, Idaho
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It's time to honor the heros

It’s been several days now since the tragic avalanche at Turbo Hill. The latest reports are that two are deceased and three are still hospitalized. The media is also reporting that there were 200 snowmobilers at Turbo at the time of the slide. The avalanche is reported to have been up to 150 meters wide and 10 meters deep. That, my friends, is a BIG avalanche!

I’d like to put some perspective on this – a snowmobiler’s perspective. Apparently no one in the media is a snowmobiler or is concerned about taking the time to gather the facts – not just the bad, but the good as well. And there is good to be heard in this story. If you ask a snowmobiler – they’d be able to tell you what that is. But either the media isn’t asking, or has heard it and doesn’t feel that the facts are newsworthy.

However, I feel these facts are the MOST newsworthy topic of this entire tragedy.

Saturday afternoon, following the close of the events for the annual Big Iron Shootout, a large group of snowmobilers headed to Turbo Bowl to make a run at the hill. As the riders lined up at the bottom of the hill, the mass of spectators parked their sleds and prepared to enjoy the show. As one of the sleds turned out towards the top, the hillside gave way. Thundering down the mountain it came – taking sleds and riders with it. This powerful act of nature happens in a split second. There is no time to react.

The time to react is as soon as it stops. And react – with speed and knowledge – in the midst of chaos – is what those sledders did. There were no typical first responders to this catastrophe in the immediate moments following the avalanche. Only snowmobilers. Those same snowmobilers that the media is painting with a broad stroke as crazy, ignorant, thrill-seekers.

As a back country snowmobiler myself, I can tell you that ignorant is not a word that I would use to describe those survivors. I would call them heroes! And justly so. In the midst of what may have been the most terrifying minutes of their lives, they turned their avalanche beacons to search, they got out their probes and their shovels and they started rescue protocols IMMEDIATELY – likely while in a state of shock. They dug out those that were buried, they triaged the injured, they administered first aid, they built fires to keep them warm until the helicopters arrived. These people were heroic!! Without their quick and educated responses, many more people would have died.

I am angered that the media is so eager to report this story that they are being so disgraceful to the victims and survivors. These people need support and compassion. They do not need to be stereotyped and degraded in the media or by anyone else. Shame on you!! Didn’t your mother teach you better manners than that?

I’m not done though – there is way more information about snowmobilers in respect to the Big Iron Shootout and Revelstoke that the media hasn’t covered yet. While they gleefully report that this is an unsanctioned (I’ll get to that in a moment) event drew 200 sledders (despite the grave warnings from the avalanche center), what they aren’t telling you is that there are likely double that number of snowmobilers who DIDN’T attend this year’s event – because of the conditions. Snowmobilers who DID heed the warnings.

As I was reading the snowmobiling forums and Facebook on Saturday evening, the same story continued to repeat itself – people concerned about friends who generally attend the BIS, those friends checking in and saying they didn’t go this year, or they were in the area but avoided Turbo Bowl because of the warnings and the conditions they were already aware of. You see, back country snowmobilers are often in the back country two or more days a week and already have first hand insight to the conditions.

Regarding the word being used in almost every story – unsanctioned. It is true that there is no sanctioning organization for this event. Not the town of Revelstoke nor the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club. However, just because it’s not sanctioned does not mean that it is illegal.

Snowmobilers often gather in large groups to ride with friends who are generally dispersed all over Canada and the United States. I personally rode with a group of 30 riders at an “unsanctioned” event in Wyoming. Oops! I also rode at another “unsanctioned” event, ummm, better make that two, here in Oregon. Rest assured, I am not a criminal nor are any of the snowmobilers that I know.

The internet keeps the snowmobiling community connected. There are 1,000s of unsanctioned events that simply start by someone saying, “hey – who wants to ride this weekend?” Next thing ya know, word spreads about how much fun everyone had and it snowballs from there (pun intended). They grow into these annual events…”same date next year?”

So, here’s what happens next – the date is set. Motel rooms are reserved. Trucks and sleds are fueled. Vacation time is requested. Then individuals, families and social groups all head into a remote mountain town. They buy. They buy. They buy a lot!! They spend money – because they can.

It is with great sadness that I have to dispel the myth that mountain snowmobilers are a bunch of rednecks. All you really need to do is add up the costs to outfit an individual – much less an entire family – with a sled and the proper safety gear. Since this article is really targeted at those individuals who are not mountain sledders, I will point out that everything – got that?…EVERYTHING, on your person and on your sled is part and parcel of your survival gear. From your gloves, to your coat, to the sunglasses in your backpack. Trying to save a dime in buying a coat is really not advised, when that coat may be the only thing protecting you from the elements if you have to stay overnight. With all that said, here’s a run down of estimated costs of the primary accessories needed to sled in the back country.

· Sled $6,000-$14,000 USD
· Clothes (including base, mid and outer layers) $800-$1,200 USD
· Boots/gloves/helmet $245-$800 USD
· Backpack (non-avy) $60-$120 USD
· Backpack (avy) $1,000-$1,200 USD
· Body armor (tek vest, knee pads, etc) $60-$300 USD
· Beacon, probe, shovel $250-$400 USD

This doesn’t include a lot of items, such as matches, radios, compass, fire starter, flashlight…and the list goes on, and the costs add up. It would be GREATLY appreciated if the media would STOP perpetuating the myths that sledders are a bunch of couch-potato, ignoranamuses. Because it’s simply not true.

The fact is that mountain sledders do not fit a stereotypical mold. They come from all areas of the business world…from CEOs to millworkers. They have families and they are single. They are old and they are young. They are world-class athletes and they are physically handicapped. They survive corporate down-sizing, cancer, divorces, etc….just like everyone else.

The thing that binds us together is our great love for the back country in the winter. We are modern day adventurers. We want to get out there – in the mountains. We want to explore and play and wonder at the beauty. We love the snow! When it covers the trees, when it flies up in our faces, when it gives us a playground of vast proportions. That is when we are in heaven. That is when our souls glow.

We are not anything that the media will have tried to make us out to be in the last couple of days. We are so much more. It’s truly a pity that the media isn’t interested in shining any light on the truth.

The truth is - the Turbo Bowl avy survivors are HEROS. We in the snowmobiling communities – far and wide – are praying for the full recovery of those injured, in body and in spirit. And finally, with great compassion and sympathy we extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who perished.

I wrote this and I am Susie Rainsberry, Oregon resident, back-country snowmobiler. I provide free and complete liberty for others to share and disperse this message. The time has come to stop the slandering of good individuals just because they ride snowmobiles.
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Old 04-02-2010   #4
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Interesting, but your trying to say that snowmobilers arent rednecks cause of the amt of money they spend on the sport? Thats an odd statement.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 04-02-2010   #5
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Originally Posted by gh View Post
Interesting, but your trying to say that snowmobilers arent rednecks cause of the amt of money they spend on the sport? Thats an odd statement.
No it was just a post that was put out and circulating to represent the ones that were there that day. I am a redneck lol. But like most back county people I'm pretty prepared to deal with things that I'm doing in case things go to chit.
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Old 04-02-2010   #6
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AJ- The criticism I have (and, I think PaddleBizzle) of group has nothing to do with their character, their socio-economic group, or their post-event heroism. My posting of the link has ONLY to do with the fact that 200 people parked their sleds in a deposition zone - that's avalanche awareness 101. I'm sorry for the loss in your community, but there's frankly no excuse for the fact that no one in the group (organizers or experienced riders) pulled everyone together and said "Folks- the avy danger is very high today. That means we're playing it 'safe': one rider at a time exposed, and consider the terrain you're on and what will happen if the slope goes."

No one did that. There's no reason for 200 people to be watching a rider highmarking an obvious slide area from its deposition zone. It's a massive group-think failure, and a sad one. They're fortunate that the death/injury toll wasn't higher, and that's probably a testament to their preparedness. They made a grave, avoidable mistake.

Canadian Incident Report : http://www.avalanche.ca/cac/incident...heIncident.pdf

Recovery Video: CTV British Columbia - Men killed in B.C. avalanche identified - CTV News

Seems to be a systemic problem with awareness. Photos from a previous Big Iron event, with riders parked at the base of another obvious slide zone:
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Old 04-02-2010   #7
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I agree and a lot of people did. why so many chose to ignore it we may never know , I'm not sure if it was unawareness or just the fact that so many others was doing it so its ok. Its kinda like when there is something going on like a fire or car accident people just gather and get as close as they can to see what is going on in this case it cost a whole bunch. The danger was high everywhere this year our first trip out was almost a dud because of it.
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Old 04-02-2010   #8
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Fun starts at about 1:30
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Old 04-02-2010   #9
Land of Lovin, Colorado
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Holy geeze, I was thinking "MOVE!!!!!" and he just laid there in the snow - wow. Thanks for posting that bit of winter fun.
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Old 04-02-2010   #10
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Proof that snowmobiles are possessed by SATAN!
Uh, I'm just gonna go find a cash machine.
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