Category Archive:Accidents

A week from graduating high school, Alaska avalanche survivor Peter Schutt was physically on top of the world as he climbed Donoho Peak near the Alaska/Canada border.

Unfortunately, Schutt’s adventure took a dangerous turn when an avalanche struck. Snow that was once a fixture on the frigid face of the mountain suddenly cut loose and turned into a freight train of cold, sugary crystals stampeding in rapid, unstoppable motion.

The avalanche pitched him over a 75-foot cliff on his tumble down 2,500 feet of the jagged mountain face. He remembers covering his head as best he could to prevent further injury.

After the avalanche Schutt’s friend and partner made his way down, contacted National Park Service via cell phone and provided cell phone GPS coordinates to aid the rescue response.

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An Aleutian avalanche woke three climbers on Easter morning. They found they were tumbling down the Neacola Mountains in Southwest Alaska. Their tents were propelled down Mount Neacola in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve by an air blast from an avalanche above them.

The climbers received a grant from the American Alpine Club to fund the north face attempt. The three have more than a decade of experience. Two work as avalanche instructors. They work together as climbing guides in New Hampshire. The team had traveled to Alaska planning to spend about 3 1/2 weeks on the mountain. They returned home to New Hampshire on Thursday but are keeping an eye on Alaska weather in hopes that conditions in the Neacola Mountains will improve enough in the next few weeks that they can return.

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Swiss avalanche deaths are up this season. Significantly more people have been killed than the latest 20-year average. The majority of victims were off-piste skiers or snowboarders. The grim statistics come in a report by the Swiss Institute for Snow & Avalanche Research (SLF) and cover the period from 1st October 2020 to 30th March 2021.

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A heli-ski avalanche near Matanuska Glacier killed a Fairbanks woman who was heli-skiing on Saturday. It was witnessed by four others in the group.

Erin Lee, 40, was rescued and taken to Mat-Su Regional Hospital and pronounced dead.Erin Lee, 40, was rescued and taken to Mat-Su Regional Hospital and pronounced dead.

She was part of a group heli-skiing about 7½ miles from the Glenn Highway east of the Matanuska Glacier, said Austin McDaniel, a spokesman for the Alaska state troopers. It wasn’t immediately clear which mountain the avalanche occurred on. Troopers have not visited the exact site. McDaniel also noted that another group was heli-skiing in the same area Saturday.

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A snow avalanche hit Washich village in Upper Chitral the other night. It crossed the Chitral River to Zang Lusht village on the other side.

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Avalanche investigators from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) must testify in the trial of Evan Hannibal and Tyler DeWitt according to Judge Casias. He dismissed a motion from the Attorney General’s Office to void subpoenas to keep them off the witness stand.

On March 25 DeWitt and Hannibal were snowboarding above the Loop Road at the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels. They triggered an avalanche. Nobody was injured but it covered more than 400 feet of the roadway up to 20 feet deep and damaged a remote avalanche-control installation.

The District Attorney charged both snowboarders with misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment.

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Avalanche

Avalanche testimony by Colorado Avalanche Information Center boss Ethan Green in a criminal case could hinder the function of the agency, according to the state Attorney General.

Evan Hannibal provided his helmet video of the avalanche he triggered above Interstate 70 last March. The avalanche buried a service road and destroyed an avalanche mitigation installation protecting I-70. He thought the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) would use his submission to help educate others.

But Summit County prosecutors used the video for a criminal case. They seek restitution for the damaged avalanche mitigation device.

Now Attorney General Weiser has stepped in, asking Judge Casias to reject having state employees testify. He cites several reasons, such as their busy winter work schedules.

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Two Alpine Meadows avalanche lawsuits have been filed by the widow and a friend of a dead skier. They accuse the resort of negligently rushing to open the unsafe slopes for a busy holiday weekend.

Cole Comstock, 34, of Blairsden, California, was killed. His close friend Kaley Bloom was seriously injured. They were caught in an avalanche on an Alpine Meadows ski run on Jan. 17, 2020. Nobody else was seriously hurt.

The two Alpine meadows avalanche lawsuits were filed in Placer County Superior Court by Bloom and by Cole’s widow. They seek unspecified damages from Alpine Meadows. The allegations include negligence, gross negligence and breach of contract. Raymond’s lawsuit also alleged the resort was to blame for her late husband’s death.

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Friday started as a perfect winter day. About a foot of new snow fell overnight. In the morning the sky cleared. Then by the end of the day the Sierra Avalanche Center had received many avalanche reports. Some happened naturally but many were caused by skiers and snowboarders.

In the morning the Sierra Avalanche Center posted its forecast. The center stated the obvious - that storm slabs in the new snow were a big concern. They rated the avalanche danger as “considerable,” meaning that skiers and snowboarders were likely to trigger avalanches.

The Sierra Avalanche Center works to prevent accidents by issuing daily forecasts. The U.S. Forest Service hires three full-time avalanche forecasters who backcountry ski and then write reports. The Sierra Avalanche Center fundraises on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service to cover much of the payroll and related expenses. There are also three part-time paid observers who go skiing to check on conditions.

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Avalanche

Two avalanche defendants, snowboarders, are facing charges and a $168,000 fine for an avalanche that threatened I-70. A judge just dismissed their motion to dismiss video of the avalanche they gave to Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

A Summit County Court judge dismissed a motion to suppress a GoPro video of the avalanche. Evan Hannibal and Tyler DeWitt had given the video to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

The video is evidence in the Summit County District Attorney’s case against Hannibal and DeWitt. They are charged with reckless endangerment and could face a $168,000 fine. These are the first criminal charges ever filed against skiers involved in an avalanche in Colorado.

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