Skiers Trigger Two Avalanches – One Buried
Where: Mount Mansfield, VT
When: February 25th, 2012
Safety Equipment: Shovel, Avalanche Probe, Avalanche Beacon
The avalanche resulted in the burial of one skier up to his neck while a group was skinning across a gladed area with a pitch of ~35 degrees. He was quickly dug out by friends.
The general backcountry ethic in Vermont is to not carry avalanche gear but this incident is is a sobering reminder that avalanches do happen in our state. The recent storm dumped 2 to 4 feet of snow across the state onto a layer of frozen rain creating a very unstable layer in the snow-pack. Backcountry skiers should be prepared for the possibility of such events regardless of the perceived “friendliness” of the terrain they are covering.
We at GearX recommend that skiers be prepared by seriously considering carrying an avalanche probe and shovel at minimum when venturing into the backcountry. In the event of a head-first, or partial burial, a shovel can drastically decrease the amount of time necessary to dig out the trapped skier. Avalanche beacons should also be seriously considered but are not as necessary in this part of the country as in the western states.