Yellowstone Club ski patroller and avalanche expert, Darren Johnson, triggered an avalanche near Cedar Basin that swept him to his death. Johnson was in a 4-member group doing avalanche research on 19 January in the southwestern Montana area near Big Sky. Having concluded 23 stability tests over 4 hours of research that late morning and early afternoon, Johnson was well aware of the risk of jumping onto what the group had determined was an unstable wind-loaded slope with a “Considerable” rating for avalanche risk, but Continue reading Patroller and Avalanche Expert, Darren Johnson, Triggers Slide that Kills Him
Wolf Creek Ski Area Patroller Colin Drew Sutton was killed in a backcountry avalanche incident on 4 March 2014.
According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), Sutton was in a group of four patrollers from Colorado’s Wolf Creek that were transported via helicopter to Pt. 12,505, which is approximately one mile west of Conejos Peak, and around 16 air miles SE of the Wolf Creek area where they typically Continue reading Wolf Creek Patroller Colin Sutton Killed in Backcountry Avalanche
The grandson of Vail’s Founder was killed in an avalanche in out-of-bounds terrain at the East Vail Chutes. Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) investigators were diverted from their study of a 2 January slide at Breckenridge, where there were no injuries, to the Vail scene.
Tony Seibert, 24, was killed in the Vail incident. He was the grandson of Vail founder Pete Seibert, and the son of Terry and Pete Seibert Jr. There were four others skiing with Seibert, one of whom was also injured. Continue reading Vail Founder’s Grandson Killed in Chutes Avalanche
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has cleared the Aspen Skiing Company (SkiCo) of any wrongdoing in its inquiry into the death of ski patroller, Patsy Hileman. SkiCo sources said in an Aspen Daily News report that they have no plans to change any policies in response to the incident.
Patsy Hileman, a 26-year veteran of the Aspen Ski Patrol, died in an avalanche on 30 December 2012 in the Ship’s Prow Glade, a permanently closed Snowmass backcountry skiing area. Hileman appears to have been skiing alone and inadvertently triggered a portion of the “crown” from a previous avalanche that pushed her off Continue reading SkiCo Cleared by OSHA in Snowmass Patroller’s Death
Highlighting the danger inherent to backcountry boarding and skiing, five industry professionals were killed in an avalanche at Loveland, the most tragic Colorado incident in 50 years. All were part of the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Bash, an event that was put-on to help fund avalanche safety and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).
According to a report from the CAIC, a backcountry touring party of six, on splitboards and skis, was caught in an avalanche in the Sheep Creek area near Loveland Pass. According to the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Department (CCC SD), the avalanche occurred on Saturday, 20 April 2013 at 1pm, on the north-northeast aspect of the Sheep Creek drainage of Loveland Pass, along US 6.
Four of the riders and one skier were killed. Each of those fatally injured was an expert boarder or skier, and was using the latest avalanche gear. Ski-Patrol.net analysis of CAIC data has found that 50% more people have been killed in the 2012-2013 season than the average of the preceding 3 seasons in Colorado. We have also found an alarming statistic that may be emerging in CAIC fatality data. While only 19.1% of skiers died (14 of 73) after being caught in an avalanche over the last 4 seasons, 37.93% of boarders died (11 of 29) after getting caught in an avalanche. Continue reading Colorado’s Worst Avalanche in 50 Years Claims Lives of 5 Industry Pros
A memorial was held on 5 January for Patricia Mae “Patsy” Hileman of Snowmass Village, Colorado. Patsy, a 26-year veteran of the Aspen Ski Patrol, died in an avalanche on 30 December in the Ship’s Prow Glade, a backcountry skiing spot at Aspen’s Snowmass area. The memorial service celebrating her life was held on at the Elk Camp restaurant at Snowmass Mountain.
Hileman appears to have inadvertently triggered a portion of the “crown” from a previous avalanche that pushed her off the edge. She was skiing in a section of the Snowmass backcountry that is not explicitly open to the skiing public due to its inherent dangers. A previous avalanche at that location had been triggered with explosives by the patrol on 27 December 2012, three days before Hileman’s incident. While the avalanche was very small, it appears to have been of sufficient size to sweep Hileman, an expert skier familiar with that area, off the cliff’s edge. Continue reading Last First Tracks: Snowmass Memorial Held for Patsy Hileman
Emily Anderson was enjoying one of the best runs of her life on more than 3 feet of fresh powder at Crystal Mountain in Washington on 18 December. Suddenly, everything changed. Emily could literally feel and hear a massive fissure form and break loose, triggering an avalanche. According to Emily, “You know, you hear a little pop when it starts to go.” Within seconds Emily was pushed into a tree and “encased”, unable to move in a seated position under several feet of snow. She had no transponder or avi air supply, and there was no indication that anyone had been on the trail. Ski Patrol “avi” experts know that only one in 3 survive under those circumstances. Emily noted in the ABC report, “I felt alone, like this could be it.” She added, “I’m very lucky. Everything about it went my way; that’s for sure.” Continue reading Thanks to a Few Friends and the Crystal Mountain Patrol, Emily Anderson Lives to Ski Again
Theo Meiners, 59, a well-known Alaska heli-guide tour leader and snow science expert, died in an incident at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska on 20 September. Meiners fell more than 30 feet to his death when, according to witnesses, he appeared to be sliding-down the escalator rails between floors. Police are investigating the incident, and are seeking information from anyone that may have interacted with Meiners at the International Snow Science Workshop banquet being held at the facility that night.
Meiners worked during his career as a ski patrol trainer in Chile at Centro de Ski, El Colorado, and at Snow King in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He was the former NSP Avalanche Advisor for the Northern Intermountain Division. Continue reading Obituary: Theo Meiners, Alaska Rendezvous Heli-Guides Founder and Former NSP Northern Intermountain Division Avalanche Advisor
The body of Nick Hall, 33, was recovered from Mount Rainier on 5 July 2012. Hall perished in a 2,600′ fall onto Rainier’s Winthrop Glacier from 13,800′ while rescuing climbers from Emmons Glacier on 21 June. Hall had just placed the 4 injured climbers from Texas into a rescue helicopter for their evacuation, when a gust of wind pushed him over the edge. He was in the process of securing an empty litter to the helicopter prior to departure.
Rangers made it to the lower incident scene that day and attempted recovery then, and again on 28 June, but had to call-off the missions due to Avalanche danger, high winds and unfavorable weather conditions at the 11,000’+ location.
Hall had been a climbing Ranger on Mount Rainier for four years. Six rescue workers from the 214th Air Regiment of Joint Base Lewis McChord used a Chinook helicopter with the assistance of a Hughes 530 from Olimpia’s Northwest Helicopters for the evacuation of Hall to Sunrise. He was then transferred to an ambulance for transport to the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office. Preparations had been made following the incident to secure him in an anchored litter for later transport. Avalanche rescue dog, Cirrus, from Chrystal Mountain Ski Patrol was used to locate the body under several feet of recent snow. Cirrus is owned by Crystal patrollers Andrew and Michelle Longstreth. Continue reading Obituary: Body of Former Stevens Pass Patroller Recovered from Mount Rainier