Avalanche: Flagstaff Ridge

Observer Name
Aaron Rice
Observation Date
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Occurrence Date
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Occurence Time
8:00am

Region:

Location Name or Route
Flagstaff Skintrack
Elevation
9300
Aspect
Southeast
Slope Angle
33
Trigger
Skier
Trigger: additional info
Unintentionally Triggered
Avalanche Type
Soft Slab
Avalanche Problem
Wind Slab
Weak Layer
New Snow
Depth
8"
Width
60
Vertical
70
Carried
1
Caught
1
Buried - Partly
1
Comments
Skinning up the flagstaff skin track this morning. winds were high and there was lots of blowing snow. At the first little steep pitch below the rocky rollover we were chatting, heads down following the skin track. All of a sudden we heard yelling to watch out and a lone skier had triggered a small, soft wind slab on to us. There was not that much snow, but it was enough to knock my partner of balance and he was pulled 30 ft down hill and both skis were pulled off (his toes were both locked). We spent the next 30 minutes searching for his lost ski. Everyone was okay and we proceeded to cautiously ski a few runs of awesome powder. We continued to experience lost of cracking, but managed terrain, kept our slope angle low, and stayed off wind loaded slopes. Lessons and takeaways: 1) I have seen this slope avalanche many times. If i am setting the skinner I keep it tight to the trees and make 35 switchbacks instead of 1 out on to the slope. I know this, but I was being lazy and following what was already there. NOTE TO SELF: "don't be lazy! set the correct skin track and always assume nobody knows what they are doing." 2) The mountains could care less that humans call it spring and UAC has stopped issuing advisories. Avalanches can and will happen when it snows. 3) The lone skier was being attentive and was actually trying to avoid the skin track and got turned around and ended up right on top of us. While he could have picked a safer line, it is our responsibility to avoid being on and under dangerous slopes. The chances that the slope could have gone naturally today are actually pretty good. We should have been paying more attention and reset the skin track in a better place.
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