Avalanche: Girdwood

Location: Raven headwall

Route & General Observations

I want to share this with the community in hopes someone can learn from my mistakes. I understand what happened and how lucky I am. All data points count in forecasting and as spring comes around more people are planning on doing this traverse.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger SkierRemote Trigger Unknown
Avalanche Type Hard SlabAspect South Southwest
Elevation 5600ftSlope Angle 45deg
Crown DepthunknownWidth 200ft
Vertical Run 500ft  
Near Miss / Accident Details
Number Caught/Carried? 1Number Partially Buried? 1
Number Fully Buried?0Number Injured?0
Number Fatalities?0  
Avalanche Details

Solo skier triggered slide on raven headwall Mar 11 13:30 took the long ride, appx. 800ft. The skier was upper mid-slope when the whole headwall fractured instantly. The slide was a struggle and fight to stay up. Skier slid almost the whole path and was buried shoulder level and able to self recoverer. Skier suffered no serious injuries and walked out.

The skier underestimated potential consequences and failed to appropriately judge conditions in hazardous terrain. The slope should not have been skied, the main driver in this accident was tunnel vision (see heuristics). As for conditions along the Eklutna traverse, lots of snow but most predominate is the diverse and unique wind effects everywhere. Obviously this has created reactive wind slabs. Many slopes are loaded on all sides in peculiar ways.

61.06206N 149.05449W is where ended up.

Additional details from skier involved stated the avalanche was triggered while descending the headwall. It fractured around 30-50 feet above them. Once caught, the skier used swimming motions to fight to stay near the top of the debris in expense of clearing their airway of snow. The skier did not have an airbag and felt it would have made a significant difference. They did lose several pieces of gear.

We are very grateful the skier was able to self rescue and is ok. We are also grateful for their willingness to share their story in the sole effort to help others stay safer.

Photos & Video
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