Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2001-11-14
Submitted By: Tuckerman.org
Place: Tuckerman Ravine, Center Headwall
State: NH
Country: USA
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.