November 3, 2013

Front Range – O’Malley Ridge

A reportedly 40’x30′ wind-slab with a crown ranging from 6-10″ deep was triggered in an isolated, wind-loaded south facing snow patch below O’Malley Ridge.  The debris ran  ~700-800′ down a steep, wind scoured gully.  The slope was ~35 degrees and the hiker was taken for a short ride.

“Looking back at the incident, it was clear that the human factor was the number
one cause.  Both myself and my partner have experience with avalanche safety, but
honestly no part of the avalanche risk assessment process entered our minds, as
we were “just going for a hike.”  Thinking back to the steps leading up to the
incident, it should have been blatantly obvious to both of us that we were
getting into a dangerous situation.  Both of us learned an important lesson,
however obvious it sounds, that whenever you are on steep slopes with any snow
whatsoever, avalanche safety should be part of your route and risk assessment.”

The main crown.  Slide from about the middle of this photograph:11_3_13 slide 1

Some secondary pockets that were also triggered:11_3_13 slide 2

The full length of the slide path (the crown is in the extreme upper left):11_3_13 slide 3

11_3_13 slide 4

Leave a Reply