Detailed Accident Report
Submitted By: Ted Steiner; GCAC
Place: Banana Chutes, backcountry terrain by Big Mtn. Resort
Summary: 1 skier caught, buried, and rescued alive
Canyon Creek Drainage- Whitefish Range. (GCAC Preliminary Report).
16 Mar 2002 - A skier triggered avalanche occurred at approximately 1300 on
3/14/02 in the Canyon Creek drainage of the Smokey Range (A sub-range of the
A skiing party of two skiers had boot packed up from the Canyon Creek/ Big
Creek saddle to mid-slope of what is locally known as the "Seven Sister
Chutes" or "Skook Chutes" on the southern aspect of Skookoleel (This area is
also in the vicinity and on the same aspect of what snowmobilers call
Upon encountering deep snows, the skiers reached what they deemed to be
their high point and decided to descend. At this point they were about 450
feet upslope from their starting point or approximately halfway up the
chutes... Before descending, the skiers conducted a snow stability
evaluation and based on the amount of new snowfall, decided to not ski the
chute centerline. Instead, the skiers decided to ski the trimline/ ridgeline
either side of the established avalanche track. The first skier descended on
the skier's left of the established avalanche track without incident and
waited at the bottom for the second skier to descend. As the second skier
descended the skier's right side of the chute, the slope released and caught
the second skier. The caught skier was carried 300 vertical feet (90
vertical meters) down slope to the toe of the avalanche debris and fully
buried under 5 feet (1.5 meters) of debris.
After establishing a last seen area, the second skier initiated a
transceiver search and located a signal immediately. The buried skier's
location was pinpointed within 3 minutes and recovery took an additional 2
to 3 minutes. Once located and uncovered, the buried skier was unconscious,
not breathing, bleeding from the nose, and cyanotic. The second skier began
rescue breathing and after a few rescue breaths, the buried skier began
breathing on his own.
Ultimately, the rescued skier was evacuated from the avalanche incident
site, spent the night in the local hospital, and is now recovering at home
with relatively minor injuries.
The avalanche occurred at 6000 feet (1796 meters) in elevation on a southern
exposure. The average slope angle was estimated to be 35 degrees. Dimensions
of the avalanche were approximately 150 feet (45 meters) flank to flank with
a crown height measuring approximately 2 to 3 feet (.60 to .90 meters). The
avalanche ran approximately 300 vertical feet (90 vertical meters). Bed
surface of the avalanche consisted of a melt-freeze crust that formed on or
around February 22nd. Debris from the avalanche measured approximately 12 to
15 feet in depth.
Information for this incident report was compiled by and written by: Ted
Steiner, Executive Director of Glacier Country Avalanche Center Incorporated
and is based on information received by parties directly involved with the
incident. If you have questions or comments regarding this incident, please
direct them to: email@example.com
Please visit: www.dailyinterlake.com
Skier plucked from avalanche
A skier near Big Mountain was buried in an avalanche Thursday but was
Two skiers had been skiing out of bounds near Big Mountain when they
triggered an avalanche, burying one of the skiers, according to Big Mountain
communications director Dan Virkstis. He said the skiers were equipped with
avalanche rescue equipment and the one skier performed a quick rescue.
Big Mountain ski patrol went to the scene, and search and rescue and
ALERT helicopter were put on standby, but the skiers made it out safely on
their own, according to Virkstis.
The avalanche occurred in the Banana Chutes area near Flower Point, a
popular backcountry skiing area close to Big Mountain.
Big Mountain received nine inches of snow Wednesday and an additional
three inches at the summit Thursday.
The Glacier Country Avalanche Center is currently rating the avalanche
danger as high.
On the Net: www.glacieravalanche.org.