Avalanche Accident on Charles Stewart SE - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 02-15-2017, 01:28 AM Thread Starter
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Default Avalanche Accident on Charles Stewart SE

From Kananaskis Country Public Safety Section:

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Two climbers were rescued from a sub-summit of Mt Charles Stewart today near Canmore. The first climber (just out of the upper right of the photo) felt a large whumpf in the snowpack and triggered a sizeable avalanche. He was able to self-arrest with his ice axe, but suffered a minor injury to his leg. The second subject attempted to descend to assist, slipped and fell, and attempted to self-arrest. During the fall he lost his ice axe and then tumbled down slope approximately 100m suffering numerous traumatic injuries. Rescue crews were alerted by phone, and were able to heli-sling both climbers out from their dangerous position, and transfer them to EMS crews. The climbers were not equipped with avalanche safety gear and failed to recognize the strong solar radiation and warm air temperatures which contributed to the triggering of the avalanche.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 02-15-2017, 03:26 PM
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It amazes me that they didn't have any avalanche equipment. With the number of warnings, announcements and special bulletins out right now describing the avalanche risk, I'm not sure how we can be more proactive.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 02-15-2017, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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what amazed me more is trip choice. Recent huge snowfall, followed by chinook+(very) warm temps. Avalanche warnings all over the place for west / south facing slopes. Still they go; and if they had ice-axes, not like totally inexperienced.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 02-15-2017, 04:36 PM
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I'm going to leave off talking about whether they should have been there or not. We all have thoughts on those kind of choices.

But it does bring an interesting thought to my mind: If I put myself in the position of the second person, and a partner fell, on any given day scrambling in the mountains, or even hiking, kayaking etc, how much should I put myself in danger to assist? Obviously, in the heat of the moment, we make decisions that are not what we would have done given less pressure. Being honest, would I have tried to descend to help or just pressed the button on my inReach? I don't know. I'm hoping it would be the latter. That is what I am taking away from this, caution in a heated situation - allowing myself to make a proper assessment - it's good to refresh those thoughts at times like these.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 02-15-2017, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PhilR View Post
But it does bring an interesting thought to my mind: If I put myself in the position of the second person, and a partner fell, on any given day scrambling in the mountains, or even hiking, kayaking etc, how much should I put myself in danger to assist?
I think its instinctive reaction; judgement call made without much thinking and level of experience has lots to do with it. First thought to everyone is to go and help for sure; but the more experience you have, the better you are able to assess overall situation and don't let emotions steer into unfavorable course of action.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 12:57 AM
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Yikes, with all the warnings lately this seems like a scary time to be anywhere near Avalanche Terrain. Hope the second person is ok! I find reading stories like these is a great way to keep my own ego in check.

Not the fastest, but I get to where I am going and enjoy it.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 09:51 AM
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I have a rule pretty much set in stone for myself to guard against getting too frisky with conditions. I made it years ago with my wife so that she wouldn't worry as much about my winter ski trips. If conditions at any level that I'll be skiing are "considerable" or higher, I don't go.

That means I'm only ever snow climbing or skiing in "low" or "moderate" conditions. It's not completely fail-safe, but it has worked pretty decent so far.

It's a very simple rule and it prevents the old "well, that slope is clear so let's just go give a look" scenario that suckers people into making different choices than they thought they would in the parking lot.

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post #8 of (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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"only low or moderate conditions" is pretty good rule; but I think one can still enjoy outdoors all the time, just stay away from high risk areas. That is of course harder for skiers/climbers/mountaineers as they generally don't enjoy valley floor and/or below treeline trips.

Regardless of strategy, staying safe is priority. Danger is real and it won't "always happen to someone else"
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
I think one can still enjoy outdoors all the time, just stay away from high risk areas. That is of course harder for skiers/climbers/mountaineers as they generally don't enjoy valley floor and/or below treeline trips.
Not that I consider myself a climber/mountaineer, and by no means am I a skier... yet! (I did my first green runs a few days ago, so it may still happen!), but I do find that a great way to continue to enjoy the mountains is to keep trips varied. Actually I think that it is incredibly important to embrace all that is 'out there'. Some of my favourite memories are backpacking to Assiniboine from Sunshine and hiking Burstall Pass.

Sorry, getting side-tracked from the theme of the thread!
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 01:50 PM Thread Starter
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Actually I think that it is incredibly important to embrace all that is 'out there'.
ah, yes! Exactly right. For instance, there is this Bow Valley Provincial park at base of Yamnunska. Many Springs, Middle Lake, aspen forests and incredibly beautiful. (Very) family friendly, and (even more) photographer friendly, year-round. Go there wondering for 1-2 hours and you will come back incredibly rejuvenated.

I don't think there is "right way" or "wrong way" to enjoy the outdoors. There are people like Steven Song who is on a mission to tag every summit cairn in western Canada; on the other side there are people who will walk few hrs on upper K-lake as their limit. One side is not better (or worse) than the other. Just enjoy, be safe and respect the environment.
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