BC Banter: Snowless on Turnagain Pass, Sentencing in Wolf Creek Avalanche Death, 22 Inches Fall in Tahoe, RASTA Glade Project Open for Comment

turnagain_northcenterridgeTurnagain Pass, Alaska Warm temperatures have brought rain in place of snow so far this season at south central Alaska’s Turnagain Pass. Now, more than two weeks past the typical opening date, the Pass is closed to snowmachining due to lack of snow.  Recent wet snow, followed by cool temps, has increased avalanche risk, and a December 14 storm “created the first documented weak layer of snow this season,” Chugach National Forest Avalanche director Wendy Wagner told Alaska Dispatch News. Following the storm, on December 18, an unnamed skier triggered a 350-foot-wide avalanche that traveled downhill 1,000 feet. The skier was buried, unhurt, and able to dig his head out of the snow. His partner, who escaped the slide, helped extract the skier from the burial. Read an account of the avalanche here.


wolf-creekPagosa Springs, Colo. On December 16, Randall Pitcher, 52 and owner of the Wolf Creek Ski Area, was sentenced to a $5,000 fine, five years probation and the equivalent of 500 hours of community service for conducting rescue and avalanche training in the Rio Grande National Forest without a permit. He was found responsible for triggering the avalanche that resulted in Wolf Creek ski patroller Collin Drew Sutton’s death, reported Outside. The fines and punishment, ordered by the U.S. Federal District Court Magistrate, were in addition to $14,000 imposed earlier in the year against Wolf Creek by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, bringing total fines against Pitcher just shy of $20,000.


sierra avalanche centerLake Tahoe, Calif. California’s recent storm dropped 22 inches of snow on some areas in Tahoe including Sugar Bowl, prompting the ski resort to open on December 12. Nearly two feet of freshies isn’t bad, but less than predicted of the storm that brought flooding to some parts of the Golden State. Not all areas were so lucky, with some locations on the east side of the Tahoe basin receiving as few as three to five inches. Tahoe City received only a light dusting while Truckee was hit with heavy rain. Recent heavy snowfall has increased avalanche risk in the backcountry and, on December 16, skiers reported whoomphing and shooting cracks above treeline in the Tamarak Peak area located south of Reno. See the full report at sierraavalanche center.org.


RASTARochester, Vt. Today is the last day the USDA Forest Service is open to hearing questions, concerns and comments on a trial backcountry ski proposal for a glading project spread over 210 acres of Green Mountain National Forest Land in the Rochester area. The glade project, started by the Rochester Area Sports Trail Alliance (RASTA), includes vegetation management and control, and, under clear circumstances, the removal and thinning of existing vegetation. RASTA states their aim is to “collaborate with public land managers to increase backcountry skiing access on public land and promote ethical use standards.” For more on this issue and to comment visit catamounttrail.org.

Related posts:

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.