Big thanks to Backcountry Access for sponsoring this avalanche education content. Check out the additional plethora of avalanche safety resources on their website.
A couple of avalanche type things are on my mind today. First, if you’ve been around outdoor gear you probably know of Loki clothing. Seth Anderson, co-founder of the company and a spirited booster of their somewhat unusual but attractive garments got avalanched on Wednesday, backcountry skiing on Grand Mesa near Grand Junction, Colorado. Seth was severely injured and by all accounts lucky to be alive. He was with well known Grand Junction outdoors woman Ann Driggers. Contrary to newspaper reports Ann was NOT caught in the slide as well but was actually spotting Seth from a safe area, and as a result was able to spend around four hours rendering first aid to Seth as they waited for a rescue, which Ann was luckily able to instigate on her cell phone (I spoke with Ann this morning).
It is somewhat unusual for people to get into avalanche trouble on Grand Mesa, but it does happen. According to Ann, they were in some terrain that most people are not familiar with. Interestingly, Ann said she had a GPS and was able to give the rescuers her exact coordinates, which facilitated the rescue and perhaps even saved Seth’s life. On that note, the newspapers mistakenly said that Seth’s rescuers were somehow able to get Ann’s GPS coordinates from her avalanche beacon, leading to wags about town saying “I want one of those beacons!”
Ann suggested we wait for the CAIC avy report for the details, rather than me having her go through the whole thing one more time after she’d just spoken with Scott from CAIC. That sounded good, so we’ll link to the CAIC report from here once it’s up.
Having broken both legs myself in an avy, I know what the drive down recovery road is like. So prayers are going out for Seth’s speedy healing.
Both Ann and Seth are quite the experienced backcountry skiers, so take-home from this is no matter who you are or what you know, be danged careful out there.
Also in avalanche news, just about any sledder or skier has by now heard of the unmitigated disaster near Revelstoke, in which around 200 snowmobilers were hanging out under an avalanche path and got ‘lanched. Two died, at least 30 injured. The sheer stupidity and weirdness of this occurrence left me for a least an hour without the ability to type on my keyboard. Apparently they were having some sort of semi-formal snowmobile event and this incident either occurred during the event, or soon after, and involved folks who had attended the event. All I can say is that if this doesn’t change the way snowmobilers in the Revelstoke area view avalanche danger, I don’t know what will. At the least, one would hope they’ll all get better at judging their picnic spots.
Comments, anyone? Are sledders somehow less careful of avalanches than backcountry skiers? Or are there just more sledders so one gets that impression? And MORE IMPORTANTLY, please leave get-well wish comments for Seth. I’m sure he’ll read this, so lets send him some love!