Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: Tuckerman.org
Place: Tuckerman Ravine, Center Headwall
Summary: 3 caught, carried, and injured
From the Forest Service Bulletin for the Mt Washington Area -
Tuesday, Nov 13, 2001
THE AVALANCHE SEASON IS HERE. THIS IS PARTICULARLY TRUE
FOR 3 INDIVIDUALS WHO WERE CAUGHT IN AN AVALANCHE
YESTERDAY IN TUCKERMAN RAVINE FOR THE SEASONS FIRST
AVALANCHE ACCIDENT. READ ON.
Yesterday 3 individuals went high into the center bowl just below the steep
center headwall which is between 55-60 degrees. They were digging a
snowpit keeping track of early season layers and practicing their skills for
the coming winter. At about 1:15-1:30 pm they were hit by a loose snow
sluff avalanche coming off of the Headwall buring one person in the snowpit
up to their chest and bringing the other 2 approximately 400ft down slope
buring them only to mid leg. They were sent airborne briefly as they came
over some small steps in the lower bowl. Self extracation was performed by
all three due to light density and the loose snow nature of the avalanche.
Injuries were minor (twisted knee and bruised ribs) and all three where able
to walk out with some assistance.
A couple things to remember and learn here. As the years go on we haved
learned more and more about the avalanche phenomemon, but let us never
forget the basics. In this case, 1. most avalanche activity will occur during
the precipatation event followed by the 24 hours thereafter, 2. Sluffing will
occur more often on very steep slopes during a snow event as it sheds snow
than the possible slab avalanche on lesser slopes. This is good and bad. A
sluff is not as destructive as the power of a slab avalanche, however if you
are in an area where this is occuring repeatedly the chances of getting hit
increase. And 3. Always think of three things in relation to your position on
the slope. Is it safe right here, is it safe below me and is it safe above me.