Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: CAIC, Dale Atkins
Place: Ohio Pass, CO near Crested Butte
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