NWAC Report on Alpental Snowboarder Death

Just noticed that NWAC has the report for the snowboarder death in February at Alepntal, Alpental Ski Area Back Country – WAC Bluffs Avalanche Accident [pdf]:

Three snowboarders entered the 80s chute in the back country to the east of Alpental Ski Area, and triggered a slide. The slide caught two, one of whom was able to self arrest. The other boarder was carried over a steep cliffy chute and died from trauma.

Here’s the high level summary:

Time and Date: ~1145 AM PST, 2/19/2012

Submitted by: Aaron Opp (Snoqualmie Pass Professional Ski Patrol) and Mark Moore (NWAC)

Location: back country (beyond ski area boundary) on east end of WAC Bluffs in an area informally known as “80s chute”, just to east of top of Chair 1 at Alpental Ski Area. Alpental lies just NNW of Snoqualmie Pass, central WA Cascades, WA USA)

Slope specifics: starting zone elevation ~ 3800 ft., ENE exposure, 45+ degree slope

Fracture line details: SS-AR-O-R2-D2; Slab size and structure—approx. 1-2 ft deep (width unknown currently) soft slab (Fist to 4F hardness) presumably released to lower density layer above freezing rain
crust; initial avalanche likely triggered second slide on lower bench

Avalanche details: Slide caught two (of party of three), one of whom was able to self arrest; remaining victim carried about 400 vertical feet down a 45-60 degree cliffy chute

Fatalities / Injuries: Three snowboarders triggered slide–one not caught, one caught and able to self arrest, one caught and carried down through very steep ice and rock filled chute, and kille

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