Near Miss: Turnagain

Location: Magnum

Wed, April 1st, 2015
One skier caught, carried 900′, not buried and no injuries
Accident Report

Skier triggered a slide on a Northern aspect of Magnum in a place commonly known as “Basketball Chute.” One person caught; carried about 900 ft. Skier was not buried and did not have any injuries. All gear stayed on and no equipment was lost.

On Wednesday April 1, a party of two skiers parked at Sunburst parking area without a solid objective. They decided to skin up Magnum’s Northwest shoulder and then ski a Southern aspect into Davis Creek. They accessed Cornbiscuit from “Superbowl” and decided to ski a couloir called “Corner Pocket,” a chute off the Northern side of Cornbiscuit. They then skinned up “Superbowl” again to Goldpan Proper, and decided to ski a Northern chute off of Magnum called “Basketball Chute.”

They side-stepped down a rocky entrance into Basketball chute. Skier 1 made three turns before the avalanche released. Skier two yelled, “avalanche,” as Skier 1 was caught. Skier 1 described staying on the surface for most of the ride, but was briefly pulled under and came to a stop on the surface. Skier 1 was not buried or injured and did not lose any gear. Skier 2 could not see the whole slide path as skier 1 was swept out of sight. Skier 2 descended on the bed surface and started a beacon search at the top of the debris. Skier 1 yelled to Skier 2 and there were a few moments of confusion, as skier 2 thought Skier 1 was a person coming to help search from below. Skier 2 was able to descend through the debris to Skier 1 and they exited the slide path safely back to the parking area at Sunburst.

This was the first time these two skiers had gone into the backcountry together. They did not dig any pits. They used their ski poles to probe into the snow to feel for weak layers and didn’t feel anything alarming. They did not observe any obvious signs of instability (collapsing, shooting cracks or recent avalanche activity.) They both read and discussed the forecast for the day and were aware of the persistent problem on Northern aspects, but understood the problem to be more of a concern on periphery of the forecast zone near Seattle Creek.