2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

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peter303
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2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

Post by peter303 » Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:34 pm

My sympathy for Mr. Marshall and his family. This article says the accident happened during a field course from one of the best avalanche schools with some of the best experts. However in the long run these schools save many more lives than they lose. I suspect this was a case of very bad luck. And I would still encourage everyone who wants to go out in the winter backcountry to have taken an avy field course.
https://coloradosun.com/2019/01/07/silv ... ty-course/
Last edited by peter303 on Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

Post by zackrobinson2 » Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:45 pm

peter303 wrote:My sympathy for Mr. Marshall and his family. This article says the accident happened during a field course from one of the best avalanche schools with some of the best experts. However in the long run these schools save many more lives than they lose.
https://coloradosun.com/2019/01/07/silv ... ty-course/
That's sad to hear. For some reason, the CAIC lists this as having happened on Saturday instead of Sunday. This reminds me a bit of the 2013 Loveland Pass slide that killed six experienced people with extensive avy knowledge. While I do think advanced avalanche courses are a good idea for people who travel in avy terrain, it is undeniable that such courses also make people more confident and lead to them taking risks they would not have taken without such knowledge.

I do believe the CAIC forecast for that day was "considerable," which is statistically the most deadly forecast level.

Edit: I just did some research and saw that the 2013 Loveland Pass slide was also on a "considerable" day. To me, these are the sorts of conditions where advanced avy knowledge can put someone into a dangerous situation. Less experienced people are more likely to just stay home.
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Re: 2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

Post by Bombay2Boulder » Mon Jan 07, 2019 5:43 pm

This is very sad to hear. CAIC report-
https://avalanche.state.co.us/caic/acc/ ... acc_id=685
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Re: 2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

Post by SnowAlien » Mon Jan 07, 2019 5:52 pm

I took Level 2 course from the same school in March of 2015. Pretty sure they took us to the same zone on RMP. That's pretty crazy turn of events. Silverton Avy School knows the area like the back of their hands.
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Re: 2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

Post by climbingcue » Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:03 am

I was in an Avalanche class the same weekend this happened in Grand Lake. The instructor talked about the fatality on Sunday morning before we went out in the field. There we very little details that morning. I learned tons of thing in my class this weekend would recommend anyone going out in the backcountry take a class.
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Re: 2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

Post by Bean » Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:51 am

zackrobinson2 wrote:For some reason, the CAIC lists this as having happened on Saturday instead of Sunday.
It's listed as having happened on Saturday because it happened on Saturday.
While I do think advanced avalanche courses are a good idea for people who travel in avy terrain, it is undeniable that such courses also make people more confident and lead to them taking risks they would not have taken without such knowledge.
The more avalanche safety training you have, the greater statistical chance you have of being killed in an avalanche. It's nearly impossible to suss out the "increased exposure per user-day due to more training" vs. "those with more training will be in the backcountry more frequently" differences, but when L1 is summed up as "how to avoid avalanche terrain" while L2 is "how to manage avalanche terrain," you have to wonder.
I do believe the CAIC forecast for that day was "considerable," which is statistically the most deadly forecast level.
The danger rating for the day in that zone was Moderate, on a South aspect which did not have any specific problems listed in the forecast. It was also well above treeline which can cause things to be missed.
To me, these are the sorts of conditions where advanced avy knowledge can put someone into a dangerous situation. Less experienced people are more likely to just stay home.
Less-experienced people are more likely to not think about the situation or be aware that there's a problem in the first place.

This man was doing everything right, being taught by some of the best guides and avalanche forecasters around to better ensure he comes home alive at the end of the day, and now his daughters don't have a father. This tragedy isn't one to be hand-waved away with "we all know the risks of being in the backcountry" or coming up with armchair-QB "lessons learned" thinking that "we'll avoid whatever mistakes were made by those guys," but I'm already seeing just that.
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Re: 2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

Post by JaredJohnson » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:05 am

The preliminary CAIC report is here and will be updated when they have more information:

https://avalanche.state.co.us/caic/acc/ ... acc_id=685

I think they post these things so that people can learn something from this very unfortunate tragedy. It is of course important, after learning what we can, that we don't assume we're better than those people and will never make a mistake like that because we learned about it.
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Re: 2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

Post by zackrobinson2 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:34 am

Bean wrote: This man was doing everything right, being taught by some of the best guides and avalanche forecasters around to better ensure he comes home alive at the end of the day, and now his daughters don't have a father. This tragedy isn't one to be hand-waved away with "we all know the risks of being in the backcountry" or coming up with armchair-QB "lessons learned" thinking that "we'll avoid whatever mistakes were made by those guys," but I'm already seeing just that.
1. I didn't criticize the guy. I didn't do it once. I think you need to read my post again.

2. I didn't "hand-wave" anything away or say "we all know the risks of being in the backcountry." I did try to see if there was a lesson to be learned, which is exactly what should be done here. That's why the CAIC makes their reports. Stop with the holier-than-thou BS. If there is an accident in the backcountry, it makes sense to see if a lesson can be learned.

I'm not sure where your attitude is coming from. I think it is worthwhile to draw attention to the fact that increased avalanche education can make people more confident, which can then make them more likely to make mistakes. That isn't a condemnation of any particular person.
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Re: 2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

Post by SolarAlex » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:50 am

What a tragedy....this is a sobering reminder that if you are traveling in the backcountry in winter, no matter what your training is, how skilled you and your companions are, the risk is not zero.

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Re: 2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

Post by Bean » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:51 am

zackrobinson2 wrote:Stop with the holier-than-thou BS.
...
I'm not sure where your attitude is coming from. I think it is worthwhile to draw attention to the fact that increased avalanche education can make people more confident, which can then make them more likely to make mistakes. That isn't a condemnation of any particular person.
I think you misinterpreted my post. I wasn't attacking you, or saying you were excusing the risks, or criticizing the guy. I was responding to and agreeing with a few of your points, and then speaking more broadly on "the community" at large.
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Re: 2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

Post by zackrobinson2 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:58 am

Bean wrote:
zackrobinson2 wrote:Stop with the holier-than-thou BS.
...
I'm not sure where your attitude is coming from. I think it is worthwhile to draw attention to the fact that increased avalanche education can make people more confident, which can then make them more likely to make mistakes. That isn't a condemnation of any particular person.
I think you misinterpreted my post. I wasn't attacking you, or saying you were excusing the risks, or criticizing the guy. I was responding to and agreeing with a few of your points, and then speaking more broadly on "the community" at large.
Fair enough. My apologies, then.

Knowing that it was in fact just a moderate forecast, and that they were on a south-facing slope, makes this even hairier, at least for me. I probably would have not thought twice about being there, particularly if i were with a respected organization for avy training.
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Re: 2019 avalanche fatality during Level 2 avy course

Post by Somewhat of a Prick » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:46 am

That will be a hefty lawsuit
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