Category Archive:skiing

The second avalanche death in two years in Dutch Draw, and at least the fourth in total, has spurred an Avalanche Risk Discussion.

The victim and his girlfriend exited the backcountry access gate atop the Ninety-Nine 90 Express. Then they hiked up the ridge before dropping in to snowboard down a run called Conehead. The victim went first, and when he was about halfway down his girlfriend followed. Then an avalanche occurred. The woman was not caught in the slide.

Some people have argued more should be done to warn skiers who may be unaware of the dangers posed by backcountry terrain. They could put resort personnel near the gate to inform people of the risk. Or require checking out with ski patrol and carrying an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. A check-out procedure is used at some other resorts.

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Maurice Kervin has spent 65 days snowboarding so far this season. Friday is a day he won't forget. On that day the snowboarder was caught in an avalanche.

Kervin had recently completed a Level 1 safety course through the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE). Despite that, he did not avoid the recognized risk.

"I remember telling my buddy 'I don’t know man. I’m kind of nervous about this run, and if it goes it’s probably going to go big,'" said Kervin.

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An avalanche south of Cooke City carried three skiers down Republic Mountain, two were injured in the avalanche. One had to be evacuated by helicopter and another was temporarily unconscious and not breathing, according to a report.

In many ways, the skiers had done everything right. All six were carrying beacons and had rescue gear. They had radios to summons help.

However, they did not check the snowpack in the place they decided to ascend the mountain. They had dug a snowpit 2 meters deep to check the likelihood of an avalanche. But a hundred feet off to the side the snowpack changed, with much less snow, only three feet.

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Silverton Avalanche School is the beneficiary of the second annual Know the Snow Rando Race. The race at Purgatory raises money for the Know the Snow Fund.

In 2020, the race raised more than $10,000 and provided 19 scholarships for skiers to attend avalanche education courses with Silverton Avalanche School.

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Kevin Jack Steuterman, 31, died Friday, while snowboarding in the Dutch Draw area. Which is just off the 9990 chairlift in the Canyons area of Park City Ski Resort.

Steuterman was with his girlfriend around 10 a.m. when the avalanche occurred. According to the Utah Avalanche Center, Steuterman was buried under 2 feet of snow in a slide that was 150 feet wide and 400 feet long.

Steuterman was on a snowboard and his girlfriend was on skis. Neither was carrying avalanche rescue gear.

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January 7 marks one year since the tragic Silver Mountain avalanche in Idaho. Three skiers were killed and four others were buried in the snow of the avalanche and survived.

The avalanche was unintentionally triggered by skiers. It ran over 900 feet down the slope and fell about 450 vertical feet.

One of the four survivors said he is still feeling some of the emotions that he felt this time last year.

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'Your life is not worth that day of powder skiing': Officials warn of severe avalanche risk.

Avalanche Canada is warning this is not the time to be in the backcountry. They are reminding those who want to venture out, to check forecasts before going.

This has been a deadly week in B.C.’s backcountry. On Monday two snow bikers were killed in an avalanche near Pemberton. Then on Thursday a backcountry skier fell into a tree well and died near Whistler.

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During the past week backcountry skiers have triggered more than 10 avalanches in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Although nobody was seriously injured there have been some dangerous close calls.

There were six reports of skier-triggered San Juan avalanches in the Wolf Creek Pass area. And another five in the western San Juan Mountains.

One skier was caught in two avalanches. They were caught and carried about 100 to 130 feet and deployed an airbag. The skier was “pushed and knocked around but able to stay upright.”

The skier then came to a stop and got the airbag operational again. Attempting to ski down, the skier was caught in a second avalanche, carried another 100 to 130 feet and deployed the airbag again.

The unstable snowpack is a result of early season snow in October and dry weather for weeks in November, causing the snowpack to become weak. Then, additional snow on top of that weak layer causes avalanches.

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“We have a block of harder snow over a section of weak sugary facets of the ground, so we have something over nothing," said Dave Zinn, avalanche expert. "This is the recipe for an avalanche, all you need now is a steep slope and a trigger.”

“Really watch out for those signs of instability -- like shooting cracks. Do some avalanche testing - dig stability tests, do an extended column test, see if you get stable results," said Zinn. "And if you don't see (stable results), find a different slope."

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Two people were caught in Tahoe avalanches in the backcountry over the weekend, on Saturday December 26. One was a skier and the other a snowmobiler. Both escaped serious injuries.

The avalanches took place on steep slopes of 40 degrees or more. Officials are advising users to choose slopes that are 30 degrees or less.

“Whumpfing, shooting cracks, recent avalanches, and unstable snow pit test results are all indications of unstable snow in the area. Do not underestimate potential avalanche size, potential run out distance, or the hazard from connected terrain above or to the side. Think bigger avalanche than expected.”

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