/ The New York Times: ‘Snow Fall | The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Michael Ryan - on 21 Dec 2012
The tragic tale of the massive avalanche that killed three people at the out-of-bounds Tunnel Creek ski run near Stevens Pass last February gets a detailed telling in a series that has started in The New York Times.

There are six beautifully designed chapters in all, filled with informational graphics, videos and photos.

Tragic account, beautifully done

Boogs on 21 Dec 2012
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC and UKH:

Will be reading this later Mick , Thank you .

mattrm - on 21 Dec 2012
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC and UKH:

It's an excellent piece of work about a very sad accident.
Michael Ryan - on 21 Dec 2012
In reply to mattrm:

I agree Matt.

Tim Kemple...USA climber and photo-journalist said:

"A comprehensive looks at last years tragedy at Tunnel Creek. One of the most impressive pieces of (multimedia) journalism that I have seen in a long time. In depth, sad, informative and extremely relevant. A must read for anyone who'd ever strapped boards to their feet and pointed them downhill."
Shearwater - on 21 Dec 2012
There's another account of the same incident here:

Not sure if it has been linked here before. Doesn't make for happy reading; it was written by one of the people involved and is quite personal.

Content aside, the NYT page is an amazing piece of work; really shows the potential of web-based publishing in a way that the usual text'n'video does not. I hope we see more of this sort of thing in future, though hopefully not the same subject.
pneame on 21 Dec 2012
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC and UKH:
Thought provoking and very poignant.
A very important lesson in group psychology, bought at considerable cost
kenr - on 24 Dec 2012
Also worth reading is the answers by author John Branch to readers' Questions:
Michael Ryan - on 24 Dec 2012
In reply to kenr:

Thanks Ken. I hadn't seen that.

This was interesting:

Q. I was riveted by this terrific narrative and the accompanying visuals. It left me wondering about the connection between the air bags deployed by Ms. Saugstad and her survival. Is there any information about their effectiveness in an avalanche. — 57pm, Philadelphia

A. Air bags are a touchy subject in the backcountry world. At the 2012 International Snow Science Workshop in Anchorage, where I was one of about 700 attendees, they were a hot topic. Although the research is thin but growing quickly, there is little doubt that air bags can help increase the odds of surviving an avalanche. You are probably safer with one than without one — or, at least, not less safe. And Elyse Saugstad is, of course, a huge believer in them. She credits hers for saving her life.

But people who spend their lives teaching avalanche safety worry that backcountry users will rely too heavily on them — that they will see them as another store-bought tool of invincibility, leading them to make bad decisions, the way (perhaps) people who wear helmets might drive motorcycles differently than they would without a helmet.

A related issue is terrain. Success rates with air bags seem to be higher in places where avalanches slide mostly above timberline, like Alaska and Europe. But in places like the continental United States and Canada, where avalanches often flow through obstacles like trees, the survival rates appear to be lower.

Trauma, after all, is responsible for about a quarter of avalanche deaths. Which brings us back to Elyse. Perhaps her air bag allowed her to ride higher in the avalanche, closer to the tops of the trees, so she missed the blunt trauma collisions that the other victims suffered. But many experts warned me: she is lucky to be alive.
JIB - on 26 Dec 2012
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC and UKH: Interesting points. Have you read much about 'hindsight bias'? Been watching a few avalanche related lectures where intuition, and hindsight bias, respectively, have been explored in relation to avalanche incidents. The focus on decision making is very worthwhile.

Hindsight Bias

Will_he_fall - on 04 Jan 2013
Just read the NYT report, and was on my way to this forum to post it up. Very sobering stuff, and a poignant reminder that avalanches don't care how good a skier you are or how much you want to ski a line.

As already commented, a very interesting reminder of the importance of considering the group that you ski (or climb?) with. Would those very experienced skiers have made the same decisions if they were with a small group of their friends? Several survivors state that they had reservations but did not feel able to express them in such a large, experienced group.

Hopefully (as always) lessons can be learned from the tragedy. I'll certainly be thinking of this when I'm out skiing this season.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.