Avalanche near Devils Lake

Tuesday, Mar 12, 2019 12:41 PM
Matt A.
Three Sisters Area (44.031249, -121.760658)
Ob Date/Time:
Fri, Mar 8, 2019 - 1:30 PM
Report Type:
Caught, Buried, or Injured Person
Mode of Travel:
Ski or Snowboard

Written Report:
Party of three left Dutchman Sno-park at around 11am on Friday 3/8/2019 and headed for Devils Lake. (Beacon check was performed before we started our skin)Skinned up drainage to a high ridge, snow was fairly consistent, light and dry in the trees. We did have some trouble skinning on SW aspects with a sun crust about 5in below the new snow. Proceeded to ski down the ridge(low angle) to access the exposed steep face we wanted to ski(steep face was SSE facing and about 35-40 degrees. The snow was very light on the ridge and good skiing. When we got to the top of the slope we wanted to ski we made our plan, we discussed the potential for the new snow to slough on the steep slope, we discussed how and where we were going to ski and where we would position on the slope for the best view of each skier. Skier 1 dropped in skiers left side and had a nice ride down with minimal slough. Skier 1 stopped at midpoint of slope to watch Skier 2 from a safe spot. Skier 2 dropped in skiers right and skied the center of the slope as Skier 3 watched from the ridge. On the third turn of Skier 2 there was a small fracture that went unnoticed and as Skier 2 completed their fourth turn they skied underneath the debris and was swept off their feet. Skier 2 slid through a gap in the trees past Skier 1 who was still in a safe spot. Skier 2 ended up on top of the snow about 150 vertical feet down the slope. Both Skier 1 and Skier 3 arrived on scene within 30 sec and determined that Skier 2 was ok. In the end a pair of poles was lost and Skier 2 may have suffered a knee injury but was able to ski out.

Lessons Learned:
Complacency in the backcountry can be fatal, we were all comfortable with our plan and what we wanted to ski. One member of the party skied similar terrain the previous day and didn't notice any issues with the snow pack.
Communication is key, always know where and how you plan to ski a line.
Don't trust a slope even after it has been skied.

Temperature: 26°C Precip: S-1 Very light snow


Caption: The slope that was skied(picture taken a couple weeks prior).

Caption: Red line shows roughly the path that was taken. Skier caught just about center of picture and carried just outside of frame, and just inside the lower treeline..

Caption: It's not a very clean fracture and the light was hard that day for a good pic. But you can see parts of the turns Skier 2 made. Crown was no more then 6in at any spot.

Caption: Looking up slide path, Skier 2 came to rest about 50ft downhill from here.

Caption: Skier 2 came to rest just above the packs on top of the snow.