Reed, Brian, Matt
Saturday, January 5, 2019
Saturday, January 5, 2019
Location Name or Route
Our party of 3 triggered a hard wind slab in a small cross loaded gully feature while skinning in Maybird Gulch today. It had a 2' crown, was ~30' wide, and only ran for ~10'. The slope angle at the crown on top of the gully was 35deg. The crown on the lookers left side of the gully may have been a slightly steeper slope angle. Two out of three members were skinning up the slope at the time the avalanche occurred and were carried, but not buried. One ski came off but was found. One pole was lost. One member sustained a minor ankle sprain but was able to ski out without issue. The third member was out of the way at the bottom of the slope.
Some details about how this occurred:
The plan for the day was to go to Hogum. Once in Maybird Gulch, we noticed a lot of cross loading and a couple of recent avalanches on the east facing slopes from Hogum Hogback (Picture 4). We decided to abandon that plan and explore some of the small runs in Maybird Gulch that were less wind loaded so we could stay out of the wind loaded, consequential terrain. After discussing this, we ran into a gentleman who had triggered the avalanche in one of the east facing chutes over Maybird Gulch that we were looking at which further confirmed our decision. He was booting up and over the Hogum Hogback ridge to get to the needle when the wind slab broke out. He lost both of his poles and was shaken, but okay to ski out. The picture of that avalanche is in picture 4 below.
After a couple of runs, we were hiking across the main gully of Maybird Gulch over to Maybird Aprons. There was a small mini gully that we had to climb up. It was cross loaded, but was only about 30' tall and had a flat run out.
The first member of our party was skinning up the choke (near the rocks in picture 2, near the person in picture 1) when the wind slab broke out above him and carried him down the slope about 10'. One of his skis came off which was found, he lost a pole, he inflated his airbag, and has a minor sprained ankle. I was waiting towards the side of the feature (where I thought I would be safe) and was also carried down about 10' from the flank. I am uninjured and didn't lose any gear. The third member of our party was at the bottom of the slope in a safe area.
The pictures don't show the run out, but it flattens out at the bottom of the pictures which is why the avalanche didn't travel very far. It was a good learning experience as although we knew this small feature was wind loaded, I don't think any of us were expecting a 2' deep hard slab to break out. As the pictures show, the whole gully including the steep lookers left side broke out and funneled down to the flat section below about 10'.