Avalanche: Dutch Draw

Observer Name
Chase Stewart
Observation Date
Friday, December 26, 2014
Avalanche Date
Friday, December 26, 2014
Dutch Draw
Location Name or Route
Dutch Draw - Goal Post/Hanky Panky
Slope Angle
Trigger: additional info
Unintentionally Triggered
Avalanche Type
Hard Slab
Avalanche Problem
Persistent Weak Layer
Weak Layer
Buried - Partly

We skied all day in the main drain of Dutch's Draw, slowly moving higher up the ridge from the lower angle of Owen's Trees toward Goal Posts. On our 4th run, one of our party skied between the Goal Posts, toward the gully beneath Hanky Panky. The slide broke at his feet on the thin, rocky rollover and looked to have pulled up 150 feet and all the way across Hanky Panky to the far edge of the main Gulley. The slide came in two pieces, two clouds. The skier caught was one of the most experienced backcountry skiers at the Canyons and one of the best skiers. He managed to stay on top of the wash and was buried to his neck. Our party dug him out. He's fine. I went back up to inspect but getting to the crown at that time had too much exposure.


Additional info from the party: Myself and a group of 4 others were laping Dutches draw around 1:30pm. We had made several runs in a section called "Hanky panky", just north of "movie line trees". As we started migrating more and more skiers left I made the unfortunate decision to ski a line called "goal post". this line runs along a ridge that is more convex and becomes steeper, approaching 42 degrees in spots. My plan was to ski the right side of the subridge and avoid most the steeper more exposed section; giving me an escape route to skiers right. as I skied through the two trees that goal post is named after, I didn't notice any fracturing at the time but the snowpack was noticeably thin and faceted. Visibility was poor, but it is our belief that the avalanche started there in the weaker facets under the new snow, and quickly propagated and stepped down to the ground. It is important to note that the Avalanche didn't strike me like a NFL linebacker till I was 1/2 the way down the slope, leading me to believe that it didn't fracture till I was already well below the starting point. I made a number of mistakes and ignored some obvious red flags over the last couple days. Suspect pits, natural avalanches close by and on similar aspects, noted snow "whomping" and the UAC report, all should have been clear signals to back off. I'm just glad all ended well enough, and I had a great group of partners to dig me out.


Jake Hutchinson photo


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