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Date: 2001-03-01
Submitted By: Bill Glude SE Alaska Avalanche Center
Place: The Hogsback, near Eaglecrest Ski area
State: AK
Country: USA
Summary: 1 skier caught and buried, minor injuries


March 1, 2001 Thursday


The Hogsback; a ridge on Douglas Island near Juneau, Alaska; about 0.6Km

west of the Eaglecrest Ski area West Bowl boundary line (not a part of

the ski area).


Adam Roy, of Colorado; skier; buried with one hand out; had just dug

down to clear his face when ski partner Stephan Drake, who had descended

first without incident, spotted his hand in the debris and helped dig

him out. Only minor injuries were reported.


A short while earlier, a snowboarder had triggered an adjacent slope,

the Boxcar, reportedly a 1m thick x 15m wide x 100m long slab, as he

landed the large cliff jump which is the mandatory entry. He barely rode

off the slab and escaped. Adam, Stephan, and a local boarder prepared to

descend farther skier's left, down the 40-50 degree entry to the 30-45

degree, NNE facing, sparsely treed, run. Stephan went first on skis and

pulled up in a safe spot below the 280m descent. Adam dropped in farther

skiers right among rocks; while the local boarder descended the center

of the main bowl without incident. Adam triggered a first slab when he

hit the drifted-in area just below the rocks (a small cliff in summer),

reportedly about 30cm thick and 100m wide, and was carried down to a

near-flat bench partway down the run, where he ended up on top. As he

started to get up, he was hit by the leading edge of a much larger slide

which his first one had triggered, which carried him to the bottom of

the slope and buried him. This slide was reportedly up to 2-3m thick and

300m wide. All involved had hiked to the Hogsback from the top of the

ski area.

Weather and snowpack:

A thaw crust formed on January 31 has been overlain by 5 to 25 cm of

early near-surface facets formed during a long sunny period in February,

some areas of windslab, and then about 20cm of new wet snow and some

rime crusts on February 26-27, and 15-50cm of fresh light snow on the

27th and 28th. Shear test values on the facet layer, all on 35-45 degree

slopes, have gone from #3 (fails on knee flex) when it was first loaded

to a consistent #6 (fails only on multiple jumps) in the last week.

Stuffblock tests on the day of the slide were failing at 60cm drop

height on 45 degrees. Explosive work at the ski area produced only small

surface slabs on the day of the accident, and people were hiking and

riding all angles and aspects both in bounds and out of bounds without

incident, except for the Hogsback. the weather was -1 C, mostly calm but

with E gusts to 15m/sec on the ridges; broken overcast with sunny

periods. Why this slope was weaker is speculative right now; we will

know more after fieldwork tomorrow.