Feb 22-24th AIARE Level 1 course
Unstable snow provides some of the best learning on any avalanche course, and this is exactly what we had in the Olympic Mountains last weekend for our third AIARE Level 1 of the season. Our group was able to observe the aftermath of two separate skier triggered incidents, both D2 on the destructive scale (large enough to injure, bury, or kill a person) that occurred on Saturday (both SS-ASu-R2-D2-I). Luckily no one was hurt in either incident.
One of these avalanches occurred in a feature called the Bowling Alley and on Sunday our group was able to tour up to the debris pile and witness the humbling reality of huge blocks of snow that could easily break your leg, a crown over a meter deep in places, and deposition on the uphill side of small trees that could bury a person over two meters deep.
The avalanche danger was very real on our tour day, and so were the decisions we made as a group. Kudos to the NWAC forecasters who literally called it last Saturday. In our maritime snow climate, one of the biggest dangers of all is complacency and it’s very important to recognize the difference between MODERATE danger (human-triggered avalanches possible) and CONSIDERABLE danger (human-triggered avalanches likely).
Thanks to a fun group of students who brought a diverse range of experience to this course. Be safe out there!