Snowmobile Avalanche Death Callaghan - ClubTread Community
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post #1 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2012, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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Snowmobile Avalanche Death Callaghan

A snowmobiler was killed today in the Callaghan Valley, south of Whistler, B.C. He was apparently high marking when caught and buried. He was wearing a transceiver- but there was apparently a delay in finding him because one of the searchers had accidentally left his transceiver in the transmit mode.

The avalanche danger today was "Considerable" which means that "human triggered avalanche are likely". Yesterday's intense storm with its strong south winds was something that produced many new avalanches- so today would not have been a good day to be out there on any steeper slopes, especially ones with a northerly aspect.

The victim was apparently a 44 year old Squamish resident.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2012, 10:27 PM
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 12:10 AM
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 08:44 AM
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It's a sad thing to hear.
I was working in a friends house last night when he got the call that his buddy had been killed. No matter what the sport or crowd, it's a shitty horrible phone call to pick up.
My thoughts & condolences go out to his family & friends.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
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The incident is reported to have happened at Grizzly Lake, which according to this map http://www.powdermountainsnowmobilin...p1-printed.pdf is located at 50.132, -123.250, which is about 3 km northwest of Brandywine Peak.

This sad incident once again underscores the need for learning how to AVOID being caught in an avalanche in the first place- winter recreationists need to learn where (terrain) and when (weather and snowpack conditions) avalanches are likely to occur, and avoid those places and times. This takes both good training AND experience- winter recreationists must not be lured into a false sense of security and think they can stay safe just by having the right gear and taking an avalanche course. In this case, the avalanche danger was going from HIGH to CONSIDERABLE- and the victim was high marking on a steep slope- not a good combination.

A recent study by Dr. Pascal Haegeli of the CAC, and reported here http://www.earnyourturns.com/9079/av...-time-reduced/ suggests that the survival time for buried avalanche victims may be much less than has been reported in Canada- 10 minutes instead of 25.

I have long maintained that in Canada, we underestimate how many people caught in avalanches are killed by trauma and compression asphyxia- strained through trees, thrown into crevasses or over cliffs, etc. AND also killed by the sheer weight of the avalanche snow pressing down on their bodies that does not allow them to move their diaphragm and breathe. Avalanche snow typically weighs 400-500 kg per cubic metre- which means that if you're buried a metre deep, you may have over a half tonne of dense snow pressing down on your body. So instead of dying in 25 minutes due to an ice mask forming around your face, you die in 3 minutes due to the fact that you simply can't breathe!
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 07:54 PM
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Recently we had to clear heavy snow from what amounted to a tarp. We could get underneath it and tried to lift it to slide the snow off. Though it had only a couple of inches of snow on it, it was like trying to lift a car. Imagining such stuff pressing in on your body from all sides was very sobering and made us wonder how people can survive any avalanche.

It's not apparent that the dynamics of an avalanche turn the snow into something far more dense than undisturbed snow. Proof is how travel over avalanche debris can be convenient because the hardness minimizes trailbreaking, or the hard solid lumps impede progress. It's really nasty stuff to get mixed up in.

Echoing what Frank said, thinking you can distinguish between, say, high and considerable conditions because you've taken a course and maybe dug a snowpit, and therefore think you know whether a given slope is safe enough, is just asking for serious trouble.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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In order for us all to learn something from this tragedy, I would challenge the CAC to now do an analysis of this incident similar in quality and thoroughness to the ones that are done by the avalanche professionals in Utah; here is a recent example:
http://utahavalanchecenter.org/accid...h_draw_2232012.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 11:01 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by FrankB

In order for us all to learn something from this tragedy, I would challenge the CAC to now do an analysis of this incident similar in quality and thoroughness to the ones that are done by the avalanche professionals in Utah; here is a recent example:
http://utahavalanchecenter.org/accid...h_draw_2232012.
excellent
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 11:06 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by FrankB

In order for us all to learn something from this tragedy, I would challenge the CAC to now do an analysis of this incident similar in quality and thoroughness to the ones that are done by the avalanche professionals in Utah; here is a recent example:
http://utahavalanchecenter.org/accid...h_draw_2232012.
And I challenge you, and others, and especially corporations to donate to the CAC so they can afford to have the personnel to do such analyses.

-Ryan
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 11:57 PM
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Condolences to the family and friends.



Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Ryan.in.yaletown

Quote:
quote:Originally posted by FrankB

In order for us all to learn something from this tragedy, I would challenge the CAC to now do an analysis of this incident similar in quality and thoroughness to the ones that are done by the avalanche professionals in Utah; here is a recent example:
http://utahavalanchecenter.org/accid...h_draw_2232012.
And I challenge you, and others, and especially corporations to donate to the CAC so they can afford to have the personnel to do such analyses.

-Ryan
Does anyone know what role the coroner's office plays in the investigation of avalanche fatalities?
http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/coroners/

Perhaps some changes to policies in the coroner's office could result in more extensive investigations being performed in the case of avalanche fatalities.
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