Friday, December 21, 2012

Crystal Mountain Avalanche Victim Recovered Alive: Buried for 10 Minutes

Sources confirm victim was in an in-bounds area, did not have a beacon, and was found with a probe strike.

The avalanche apparently occurred in the "Northway" area, an in-bounds area that is open by patrol when deamed safe.

A map of the area can be found here:

Details are a bit unclear regarding the Washington State woman who was buried in an avalanche on Thursday. What is clear is that she was buried for over ten minutes before being dug out alive. The main points that remain unclear to me include: Was this inbounds? Was the victim found with a beacon? As an aside, it does look like the type of accident in which an airbag may have helped expedite the rescue. I am just glad she is ok.

A story in the Oregonian can be found here:

An video interview with Paul Baugher, Crystal Mountain Patrol Director, can be found here:

And finally, a video taken by one of the rescuers can be found here:

I am still unclear whether or not this is an in-bounds avalanche. News reports refer to it being in-bounds, but the video certainly makes it appear that a ski patroller is opening a gate.

The video account of the rescue certainly illustrates the importance of strong leadership and organization during a rescue. Having been involved in a large scale rescue myself, I can attest to the fact that it is not easy to get all involved to turn off their respective beacons, or turn them to search. Obviously, this also begs the question, is it safe to do so? Please see my last blog post on auto-revert considerations. Mammut PULSE 3.2 recently introduced a "RESCUE-SEND" function which provides an added degree of safety and organization for rescuers. See my last post for details.

Great job to all the rescuers involved including the witnesses that responded immediately and the Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol.

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