Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2001-02-25
Submitted By: CAIC, Dale Atkins
Place: Ohio Pass, CO near Crested Butte
State: CO
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 skier caught, carried, and killed

Ohio Pass, CO

February 25, 2001

1 backcountry skier killed

A 40-year-old woman and long-time resident of Crested Butte was killed while

skiing the East-facing slope near the summit of Ohio Pass. Locals call the

area the "East Bowl." The victim and her group of four friends were

well-equipped and very knowledgeable about avalanches and the area.

At about 1415 hours the group was descending the East Bowl. The slope angle

typically ranges from about 30 to 40 degrees in steepness; however, a very

steep but short pitch of 45+ degrees bisects the slope. When the victim

skied across this steep, wind-loaded roll-over she released a sizable soft

slab avalanche. She was swept only a short distance but hit a tree. She died

immediately from massive head injuries.

This skier triggered a medium-sized soft slab avalanche (SS-AS-3-O...size is

relative to the avalanche path) that ran on old snow. The fracture line was

generally 3 to 4 feet in depth but ranged up to 5 feet in places. The

avalanche was almost 500 feet across and released from about 10, 540 feet

and fell about 400 vertical feet.

Interestingly, when observers the

following day did a Rutschblock test near where the victim's tracks crossed

the fracture line (35 degree slope) they could not cause a fracture. Their

score was a RB7. This also was consistent with Rutschblock results that show

triggered avalanches occur about 7% of the time with RB scores of 7.

The backcountry avalanche danger on the morning of the accident was rated:

"Generally MODERATE below treeline; CONSIDERABLE near and above treeline." A

special comment was also added that "Backcountry skiers in the Crested Butte

areas were reporting triggering avalanches but we had no other details."

When more information becomes available we will update this report.

Dale Atkins, 3/1/01