According to Crested Butte Avalanche Center, a backcountry skier triggered and was caught in a soft slab avalanche off Kebler Pass in the Colorado Backcountry near Crested Butte on Wednesday, November 11th.
The avalanche was triggered by the skier at 9,600-feet on a north facing slope of 35º of steepness. The skier was caught in the avalanche but was not buried. The avalanche was about 13″ deep.
- Location: Kebler Pass Area
- Date of Observation: 11/11/2015
- Name: Heather Bradford
- Subject Skier triggered Avalanche near Splains Gulch
- Aspect: North
- Elevation: 9600′
- Avalanches: One skier triggered R1, D1 soft slab Avalanche. Skier caught but not buried. Crown height approximately 35cm. Failed at the interface between basal facets and the snow from last weeks storm cycle. Starting zone angle approximately 37 degrees.
- Weather: Overcast. Light snowfall and light wind, no snow transport observed. 3:00pm.
- Snowpack: Snowpack is minimal at this elevation, only measured 40-50cm of total snow. Snow from the past storm cycles have come in right side up but it is sitting on top of 1-2cm of basal facets. – Crested Butte Avalanche Center
This avalanche was easily triggered due to a significant layer of 1-2cm facets (HUGE and SCARY) sitting underneath the new storm snow.
Many people assume that there has to be a large amount of snow for an avalanche to occur, but in this case there was only about 15 inches of snow on the ground and that was enough for this avalanche to occur. Luckily, the lack of snow failed to bury the skier and saved her life.
The new snow is currently sitting on 1-2cm of Basal Facets that form and act as the base layer for all the snowfall. This base layer continues to present avalanche risks and precautionary methods must be taken to ensure your safety while venturing out in the backcountry.
Even though its early in the season, its still very important to take steps to ensure your safety while venturing out in the backcountry by:
- Getting the necessary gear, such as a probe, avalanche beacon, shovel, and a partner.
- Getting the training on how to asses avalanche conditions and what to do in the case of an avalanche.
- Getting the weather forecast and reviewing snow condition reports.
- Getting the picture of what the situation will be like and how you will act during it.
- Getting out of harms way in the case of an avalanche.
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