Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: WWAN for GCAC
Place: Black Lake region in Jewel Basin
Summary: 1 skier caught, fully buried, rescued alive and uninjured!
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Skier buried by avalanche
By Dave Reese
The Daily Inter Lake
A backcountry skier was fully buried in an avalanche in Jewel Basin last Friday afternoon, the first reported avalanche incident this winter.
The skier was buried for three to five minutes and was wearing an avalanche transceiver, which allowed him to quickly be rescued by a fellow skier, said Ted Steiner, Glacier Country Avalanche Center executive director.
The skier was covered near the bottom of the avalanche and when uncovered was conscious and not hurt.
The avalanche in the Black Lake region of the Jewel Basin was a soft-slab slide and occurred at around 2:30 p.m. on a northwest slope at approximately 6,200 feet elevation. The avalanche was about 220 feet wide; it ran 600 feet and dropped an estimated 200-300 vertical feet, according to Steiner.
Earlier Friday, a group of five skiers triggered a small avalanche in the same area and had seen evidence of other natural avalanches on east-facing slopes at around 7,000 feet elevation, Steiner said.
The Glacier Country Avalanche Center on Friday rated the avalanche danger as moderate below 7,000 feet on wind-loaded slopes and low on wind-sheltered slopes. The center has not issued an avalanche advisory for this week.
Friday's slides in the Jewel Basin highlight the need for continued avalanche education, Steiner said, and there will be several clinics this week for winter backcountry enthusiasts.
The first session will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Rocky Mountain Lodge in Whitefish. The training session, which is open to the public, will give a general overview of avalanche safety.
On Thursday, the Glacier Country Avalanche Center will have an avalanche-transceiver training session at 7 p.m. at the Sportsman Ski Haus in Whitefish. This session will cover different transceivers and how to use them in search-and-rescue operations. The Sportsman will offer a 10 percent discount on avalanche rescue equipment during that training session.
Following that training session, there will be a field course Saturday on Big Mountain where participants will learn how to use avalanche transceivers. The class will begin at 9 a.m. at the bottom of Chair 6. The public is welcome, but participants are required to bring avalanche transceivers, shovels and probe poles.
The session is sponsored by the Glacier Country Avalanche Center, Big Mountain, Rocky Mountain Outfitter and the Sportsman Ski Haus.
This week's classes are important for people who recreate in the winter backcountry, Steiner said. "It?s good to have all the right equipment, but judgment and learning how to use that equipment are the best tools available,? he said.
For more information on this week's classes or the Glacier Country Avalanche Center, call 863-9624 or log on to www.glacieravalanche.org.