Avalanche: Coalpit

Observer Name
Spencer Weiler
Observation Date
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Avalanche Date
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Salt Lake » Little Cottonwood Canyon » Coalpit
Location Name or Route
Coalpit headwall
Trigger: additional info
Unintentionally Triggered
Avalanche Type
Soft Slab
Avalanche Problem
Wind Drifted Snow
Jake Buckner and I approached coalpit headwall via the east facing Hypodermic Needle apron, then booted up N ridge to our entry point to ski the east couloir of the Coalpit Headwall. We had noticed lots of wind affected snow, largely soft but firm skinning conditions throughout our skin from white pine. It was terribly windy on top of the ridge, and we noticed that there were wind drifts in the couloir. we had been skiing a lot in the past few weeks and felt the slabs would be largely small and manageable. We were wrong. I went first, and ski cut the line twice, jumping quite hard as I usually do to try and trigger the slope. Nothing seemed to be happening, not even some mild sluffing. I skied two or three more big turns till I could access what I hoped would be the best safe spot to wait for Jake to ski down. Jake skied my original first ski cut line and BAM, the entire slope above me broke out immediately. Jake was thrown off balance, and was carried a short distance down the couloir before he was able to self arrest with his whippets. I was not so lucky. I was immediately engulfed by the avy and was carried the ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE COALPIT HEADWALL. I was on top the majority of the way, then got buried a few times, and luckily ended back up on top near the bottom runout of the headwall. Jake skied down to me, and we assessed that no one was hurt, just scared. I lost both my skis and poles and some other clothing. I booted down coalpit to our car. We did not go up to investigate the crown or surface bed due to our trauma. I will leave it to the UAC experts to investigate the details if they wish. We both feel extremely lucky to have survived this massive avy. Feel free to contact me for other details.