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Avalanche: Deaf Smith

Observer Name
Observation Date
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Avalanche Date
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Salt Lake » Deaf Smith
Location Name or Route
Deaf Smith approaching Bonkers
Avalanche Type
Wet Loose
Avalanche Problem
Wet Snow
A party of three with skiing from Deaf Smith hiking back towards Broads Fork on the backside of Bonkers when a wet slide came over the cliffs missing the first in the party but subsequently hitting one of the two skiers below who was transitioning from skinning to booting. The skier was carried approximately 60-80 yards down the hill but remained on top of the snow. All three in the party had equipment taken down the hill with the slide but all was recovered. Snow observation and conditions at the time were stable there were no rollers as seen in photos during the approach. Reported by a secondary party who was skiing Bonkers that another party had passed them and summited the ridge of Bonkers at the time the avalanche occurred it is suspected that snow was kicked off the top causing the wet slide to come down and hit our party. Close call could have been a lot worse. A reminder to know what is below you before kicking snow down! After the slide the route plans changed and all in the party made it down safely. Below is a photo of the approach to Bonkers with the cliffs above where the snow came off. Forecaster note: I switched trigger to unknown. This slide could have been triggered by a party above or it could have initiated by snow coming off the warming rocks. I don't think we'll know unless it's confirmed by the party above that they triggered a wet loose sluff. Glad this close call had a good ending.

Notes from another party that day -

My partner and I skied a run on bonkers Saturday and then ascended again to ski stairs gulch. After gaining the ridge of bonkers we went up a little higher but dropped into stairs before gaining the ridge between big and little cottonwood canyon. We were the only party to ski upper stairs as of about noon. Not sure of others were up there after us. We also noticed significant wind loading on the north end of the compass. We intentionally triggered a very small wind slab into stairs that was only a couple inches deep and a few feet wide that maybe ran 100 feet but did not break into deeper layers.Notes from another party that day -