Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2002-03-14
Submitted By: Dale Atkins; CAIC
Place: East of the Lindley Hut, approximately 4 miles south of Ashcroft
State: CO
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 5 backcountry skiers caught, 3 partly, buried, 2 injured, and 1 buried killed

Ashcroft, CO

March 14, 2002

5 backcountry skiers caught, 3 partly

buried, 2 injured, and 1 buried killed

Provisional Report -- Report subject to change as

more information is learned.

Date & Time: March 14, 2002; shortly before 3:00 pm

Location

East of the Lindley Hut, approximately 4 miles south of Ashcroft

Elevation: 11,000 feet

Aspect: West

Summary:

On Thursday near noon a group of backcountry skiers

near the Lindley Hut

(about 4 miles south of Ashcroft) triggered a large soft

slab avalanche. Two

members in the group suffered knee and ankle injuries

while another member

was buried. Companions found the buried 63-year-old

man under 3 feet of snow

after 30 minutes. He had also been swept into a tree.

Resuscitation efforts

failed. The group carried rescue equipment and "dug

snowpits" earlier in the

day.

The group was skiing a 22- to 24-degree slope east of

the hut. The problem was that

steeper terrain was directly above them. After several

runs one member of the group moved a little higher up

to dig a snow pit. While digging the pit a portion of the

slope to the skier's right released, but then the slope

above them released. They likely triggered the

avalanche from below. This is analogous to pulling a

log from out from the bottom of a wood pile.

The soft slab avalanche occurred on a westerly-facing

slope at about 11,000

feet. The avalanche was estimated to be 600 to 800 feet

across and fell 300

to 400 vertical feet. This avalanche released to the

ground.

It is important to note that rescuers responding to the

accident reported

significant instability. They triggered a small bankslide

that deposited 4

feet of snow onto the summer road. They also reported

cracks shooting out

from underfoot, too. It was "really scary" snowpack,

according to rescuers.

Atkins & Williams

(with input from Scott Messina, MRA)

March 15, 2002