More on Carl Skoog fatal Backcountry Skiing Accident

Post by blogger | October 25, 2005      

I spoke with someone who knows about Cerro Mercedario, the mountain Carl died on. He said the snow tends to become very icy in this region of the Andes. I have no wish to pick apart Carl’s accident as I know little about it, but I do have a legitimate interest in these types of falls, as Carl isn’t the only person I know who’s been a victim of such (and I’ve come pretty close myself). Considering many backcountry skiing accidents of this type, it appears that skiers end up on icy or super compacted slopes that are more tenuous than they bargained on, and that trying to self-arrest with ice axe or ski pole picks (such as Black Diamond Whippets) on such slopes is difficult, if not impossible. It’s amazing how a pair of skis will grip steep ice or hard snow, but the margin of error in such situations is nearly zero. Accidents such as Carl’s drive that point home — we can honor Carl by being that much more careful when we’re tackling steep icy slopes. That’s my approach, anyhow…

(Note: Some reports are saying that the slope Carl fell on was covered with “soft” snow and 42 degrees steep. If so, there must have been other contributing factors, such as a large awkward backpack or slick clothing — other things to consider in light of this backcountry skiing tragedy.)

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