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Blog: First-hand account of Meadow Chutes Avalanche

Mark Staples
Comments
Thank you for "your story". So glad for your outcome. I've skied meadow chutes many times and was involved in an avalanche in "no name bowl" 12 years ago. I hope backcountry skiers read and learn from your report. Wasatch skiers are in avalanches way too often!
Jane Arhart
Tue, 3/13/2018
Great write-up Pete, thx for sharing, so glad you are alive so you can snake my lines in the future. Sorry to hear about the injuries. It sounds like the dis-located shoulder may have resulted from your work to stay above the snow, in which case it was well worth it. I've been in six avalanches and the message you gotta fight even if it hurts bad if you want to stay alive is very clear to me, reinforced by your story. I have many fond memories crossing pathes with you over the years and really can't tell you how happy I am I get the opportunity to see you again out hiking to ski. I have a particularly warm memory of breaking trail up Bowman to be relieved by you, Mark and Bob. Dropping Toots, skinning up to a gaggle on Wilson Peak, thinking maybe south, no, bad snow, out Wilson Glade, up to the top of Depth Hoar Bowl. One of so many fun days in the Wasatch. So happy you will get many more. Heal up fast old friend, I'll look for you next year
Peter Donner
Tue, 3/13/2018
Peter, thanks for reading. Always great to share time in the mountains with others who love it so much. Hope you are finding good and safe skiing. These conditions are challenging for everyone. See you next season!
Peter
Wed, 3/14/2018
I like Peter's comment," We didn't discuss enough about the area, and I relied on friend's knowledge because he had been skiing the area during the season." I think it should be on everyone's check list, discuss everything at the start keep talking and especailly when you leave to ski another part of the mountain. It is hard to say let's evaluate this run. Very good advice about the medical kit. I have always carried with all mentioned with even more items including a flare and smoke bombs. It is very small and you can get them on line or a hardware store. I have trained myself always to read the avalanche report everyday during the season, and say to myself, remember Willis, you don't know shit. We have all had close calls at some point in our lives while in the backcountry. Thanks for the article.
Willis Richardson
Tue, 3/13/2018
Peter This is my 42 year in the backcountry and have also been in an avalanche many years ago and can't emphasize how important it is to cary all of your mentioned extra gear especially a good first aid kit with high strength pain relievers and adequate clothing for a possible overnighter especially a space blanket for they take up virtually no room and weigh nothing! Gave up, skiing alone years ago and never ski without my pack for it has everything you will need! I also carry my spot device for the Wasatch do have dead zones with no cell coverage. I have always felt the Meadow Chutes are far more dangerous in that the starting zones are large even though lower angle and all funnel into constricted steeper terrain and early season are chocked with vegetation which makes the area that much more dangerous! Upper Days is another area that people take to lightly I was there the day Two Dog got it's name and the last day I ever skied without my pack leaving it at the top of the run in the flatter west bowl when the party of 3 were setting an uptick in this very dangerous terrain. This terrain is a repeater and should not be taken lightly! Thanks for the great report! So lucky no one has been killed this year and my hats off to the great job the Avalanche Center does everyday and the legion of obs sent in by everyone. We have the best reporting of anywhere in the west by far!
Rick Hoffmann
Tue, 3/13/2018
I am grateful you are healing up. I don't know you, but I know Brad from the beginning of my journey into backcountry skiing. I also know your brother. Sad to say the "Satch"is so over crowded!! I'am glad you were with Brad! Cheers to healing & and to a better winter next year.
Jenn t
Tue, 3/13/2018
Awesome. Thanks so much for sharing and I'm really glad you made it out of this!
Justin
Tue, 3/13/2018
Thanks for taking the time to write up your experience, and I'm glad you're OK. For clarification, were those in your group using beacons, and did everyone have a shovel and probe? Was anyone wearing an airbag?
Bill
Tue, 3/13/2018
Pete, your near death experience will make many of us smarter. I have skied that line many times. Next time I will ski it with more vigilance.I will more aware of when I pull my camera out. When I see folks climbing cardiac ridge a few feet apart, I often wonder if they know there are always outliers and it is safer to presume that a slope can avalanche even on a low or moderate hazard day. Yours and Brad's experience with 60 yrs in the backcountry was one of those outliers. I haven't forgotten how you and Bob helped carry my pack out of Bells Canyon years ago. I am glad you are ok and thanks for sharing.
Howie Garber
Wed, 3/14/2018
<p>Pete - glad you are ok and good on ya for being willing to share your experience; for some reason that&#39;s not an easy thing to do, but it&#39;s important both for you and the community.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>An important point:&nbsp; you mention that Brad called a friend on the Solitude patrol, and you suggest having the appropriate numbers plugged into your phone so you know who to call in case of an accident.&nbsp; It&#39;s my understanding that over the last few years the 911 dispatchers have gotten much, much better at understanding the backcountry and avalanches and they now have an efficient system to trigger a backcountry rescue mission via the canyon patrollers, the resorts, and Wasatch Backcountry Rescue.&nbsp; Additionally, their system has the ability to pinpoint the location from the phone call.&nbsp; So when in doubt, call 911.&nbsp; Maybe someone from the UAC or WBR can confirm all this?&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, if you can&#39;t get a call out due to lack of reception (Broads, bottom of Days/Silver, Mill Creek, Mineral, etc)&nbsp;and you need a pinpointed gps location for an impending rescue effort and don&#39;t happen to have a map app on your phone, the UAC app has both a camera function AND a gps&nbsp;function (that works without a cell signal)&nbsp;and if you take a picture using the camera within the UAC&nbsp;app it will have the gps coordinates printed on the pic so you have a record of the coordinates to relay to a heli/rescue crew (and if you take a pic of your buddy it&#39;ll be a memorable one for him!).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>
tomdiegel
Wed, 3/14/2018
<p>Regarding Tom&#39;s points - yes, calling 911 is now&nbsp;&nbsp;generally faster and more effective than using your insider access to a resort or Alta Central.&nbsp; That call will connect you nearly instantly&nbsp;to a Canyon patrol officer who can mobilize WBR, nearby patrol, a helicopter from one of several services, Unified Fire, or any other rescue asset that might be needed. and yes, the more info you can give them, like GPS coordinates, run name, elevation, aspect, and steepness, wind and visibility, the faster, safer, and more precise the response will be.&nbsp; Wise to carry first aid, warmth, and shelter anyway because they can&#39;t always reach you quickly, especially on a storm day.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Thanks Pete, your experience shows that the wisest and most experienced of us is never immune to a harsh lesson. Looking forward to seeing you back out on a skin track.</p>
Paul
Wed, 3/14/2018
The Diegel’s speak truth. Calling 911 will now improve your outcome and give you the best chance of launching all the necessary resources and professionals.
M. Brehm
Wed, 3/14/2018
Thank York for this write up Pete. So glad you are ok to share this story. I learned some valuable lesssons! I would like to note the Pain Killers in the pack suggestion... this can be a tricky one. If emergency surgery is ever needed administering pain killers as a rescuer can be a costly decision? First, if the patient is not fully alert or oriented, maybe in shock they may not be able to consciously share that they are allergic to a medication you are providing. Second, the surgeon won’t be very happy. Finally, yes bring them incase of overnite but with high trama don’t use them. That is my own personal protocol. I am not a doctor I have just experienced the not stoked surgeon asking to not administer meds during high trauma accidents. Would love to hear some doctors thoughts on this. Thanks again for the great read! T
Anthony Pavlntos
Wed, 3/14/2018
Damn dude every time I read this I think of how easily it could’ve been me. I remember talking to you that morning and putting the kibosh on the Meadow Chutes because I have never been a fan of that terrain. But if I was there I can’t think of anything different I would do than what you guys did. Doing the accident report was a learning experience for me, when I came upon the slide path and the debris pile I could not believe you survived it, and limped away in mostly one piece. We’ve been skiing in the BC around here for most of our lives and we all get caught eventually, but learning from our mistakes is key to survival. I remember the first time I saw someone caught in a large slide, we were just about to the top of Eddies High, preseason at Alta the snow fractured between you and me I jumped back and saw you disappear in a cloud of snow. I think we both learned a lot from that on as well. Get well soon my friend we still have a lot of powder to ski.
Mark White
Wed, 3/14/2018

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