Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2007-02-25
Submitted By: NWAC
Place: Clark Canyon, near Mt Hood Meadows
State: OR
Country: USA
Summary: 2 skiers caught 1 partially buried, self rescue;1 totally buried

Avalanche Incident near Mt Hood Meadows, OR

Report prepared by Tighe Stoyanoff and Adam Wagner?Mt Hood Meadows Professional Patrol, and Mark Moore, NWAC

Date: Sunday afternoon, ~1400 PST, 2/25/2007

Location: Hinterlands/Heather Woods, Clark Canyon, within Mt Hood Meadows Ski Area Boundary

Elevation: 5700 feet

Aspect: N-NE, 30? slope average (45? at steepest point where slide released)

Victim(s): 2 male skiers caught?1 partially buried, self rescue;1 totally buried in small trees at base of short slope, dug out by two companions within ~10 minutes, victim age 56

Avalanche: SS-AS-R3-D1, post control, 2 ft x 75 ft slab traveled ~100 ft vertical

Rescue: Victim recovered by visual and auditory search within ~10 minutes

Weather: 26? F, overcast, light snow

Preliminary incident narrative:

Early Sunday afternoon a party of three skiers enjoying some Northwest powder approached a relatively small but steep rollover in mid-lower Clark Canyon in the Hinterlands/Heather Woods area. At the time of their approach, the weather was estimated to be light snow with temperatures in the mid 20?s and light to moderate southwest winds along higher ridges. That morning the Mt Hood Meadows Ski Patrol reported 7 inches of new snow during the past 24 hours along with a water equivalent of .52 in (about 7-8% snow density?~70-80kg/m3), max/min temperatures of 31? F/25? F, and moderate southwest winds. Apparently the top of the slope had been traversed by a snowboarder earlier in the day with no release. Also, except for some small pockets releasing up to 1 ft soft slabs, morning control work in that part of the Canyon had produced no significant results. In any case, Skier 1 proceeded down slope without incident, stopping at the bottom. Skier 2 then made three turns whereupon the slope released a two foot soft slab, catching Skier 2 and sweeping him toward some small trees at the base of the short slope. Skier 2 came to a stop in the seated position just uphill from a band of small trees with his head approximately two feet under the snow, facing down hill. At the time of the incident, Skier 3 was skiing to the left of Skier 2 and did not notice that the avalanche had occurred.

After the slide came to rest, Skier 1 was buried up to the waist but was subsequently able to dig himself out. Meanwhile Skier 2 was able to clear a small air space in front of his face as the slide was coming to rest. After coughing up some snow that had filled his mouth, he was able to breathe and began to shout?these shouts were heard by Skier 1 who was partially buried nearby. Shortly thereafter, Skier 2 found that by moving his arm he was able to punch a hole through to the snow surface. After uncovering himself, Skier 1, with help from Skier 3, used both voice and visual contact (he saw the fingers of Skier 2) to pinpoint, dig down to and uncover the head and shoulders of Skier 2 within about 10 minutes. Once his head and shoulders were uncovered, Skier 2 found that he was able to wiggle his way free from the debris. The incident avalanche path is roughly 75 feet across, and 100 plus feet long with some small trees at the bottom. Note that information in this report is approximate, because the party did not come forward until two days after the incident.

Other information: Skier 2 who was buried had a beacon and shovel. Skiers 1 and 3 had no rescue equipment other than skis and their hands. Skier 2 was able to free an arm after some time, and had his fingers visible to Skier 1. Skier 1 and 3 were able to free their friend in around 10 minutes using their skis and hands. No injuries were reported.

A more complete report should be available at www.nwac.us as soon as more information becomes available.