When Avy Danger is Red, Ski it Safe

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | December 24, 2010      

Yesterday and today, West Elk Mountains. A few snow pits and terrain evaluation led us to believe that despite the overall rating of High, our chosen zone could actually be rated low, so carpe skiem. But once we got a view to the alpine, check out what we saw. Click images to enlarge.

Colorado backcountry skiing.

Due to snowmobile troubles and a late start, we didn't begin making turns till sundown. I dialed up the camera ISO, set everything manually, and caught this shot of Luke as the light left us. I like the way it turned out, kind of impressionistic? Click image to enlarge.

Colorado backcountry skier.

I told James we don't publish photos of meadow skipping. But since he wasn't meadow skipping when this image was acquired, we figured the rare drop of the knee would grace WildSnow as a Christmas bonus for all you telewhackers out there who put up with our B.S.

Colorado powder skiing.

Now, if Jamie tends to the radical with his free heel, what about Jason with this jacket? He likes his BD Justice skis, that's for sure.

Chair Mountain avalanche, Colorado.

From our safe zone, we could see this. Yep, the Red avalanche forecast lived up to its hype, at least up around 11,500 feet. This fracture had to have happened within 48 hours, we figured it was over a mile long and at least four feet deep, perhaps deeper. What was interesting is down below timberline where we were skiing, northerly stuff was stable, while south and east had an ice layer that we didn't like. The pictured avy happened on north aspects. This again showing how elevation played a big part in just what was dangerous during this past storm. Please click image to enlarge.

Chair Mountain avalanche view.

Another view of the Chair Mountain avalanche, showing most of the fracture, which is over a mile long. Click image to enlarge.


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8 Responses to “When Avy Danger is Red, Ski it Safe”

  1. gtrantow December 24th, 2010 5:49 pm

    Thanks for being politically correct with pics of telewhackers enjoying the West Elks too. Do teles as a disadvantaged group get preference points for first turns?

  2. Lou December 24th, 2010 5:58 pm

    Grant, yes, when they’re under 20 years old. Once they pass that mark, they’d better switch to AT or risk banishment, or worse 😀

  3. Paul December 24th, 2010 7:47 pm

    “Once they pass that mark, they’d better switch to AT or risk banishment, or worse”…
    Worse, make them go back to skiing on skinny skis with no sidecut that don’t carve and require the old-style original telemark (i.e. tip of rear ski jammed into inside of forward foot) to turn!

  4. Andy December 25th, 2010 11:19 am

    Lou and the Wild Snow gang are so on topic without the snarkiness that populates most forums and blogs, until the subject of freedom of the heels comes up.

    The picture is great, and the occasional review of tele gear is great. Keep it mixed up. And as for the age thing, I started skiing tele when I turned 50….

  5. Njord December 25th, 2010 5:55 pm

    Massive amounts of new surface hoar at 10,500 and North facing in the West Elks… Scary!

  6. Lou December 26th, 2010 6:23 pm

    Ah yes Andy, we do snark once in a while. Only human. And I’m sure James gets the joke (he was out with two over 50 dads).

  7. myska January 4th, 2011 1:51 am

    hi lou,
    i really like your shot of jason in his green jacket, can you tell me what settings you had on your camera? did you use panning method to shoot it?
    life is good :o)

  8. Lou January 4th, 2011 3:54 am

    Myska, yes, I used panning. Everything was set to manual mode, something around ISO 100, 800th of second. Panning is difficult to always get because it depends on focal length of lens as well as shutter speed. With me it’s more of a chance thing than anything I plan very carefully. My method with my point-and-shoot camera is to just pick some settings and keep shooting. I usually get a couple of good ones a day that way, which is enough.

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