Cornice failure R2/D2 skier triggered on pucker up - east face broken top crater

Red Flags:
Rapid temperature rise

Updated:
Sunday, Mar 24, 2019 9:21 PM
Observer(s):
Ryan DeKay
Position:
Public
Location:
Broken Top Area
Ob Date/Time:
Sun, Mar 24, 2019 - 8:35 PM
Report Type:
Avalanche Activity
Mode of Travel:
Ski or Snowboard

Written Report:
Witnessed an R2/D2 skier triggered slide on the pucker up face (south east face of broken top crater) that was caused due to a cornice failure. My party was transitioning near the bottom of the crater when we heard the slide. A large chunk of the cornice came right by our party, narrowly missing us, even though the runout ended well above our location. We noticed a backpack and skis/poles caught in the slide, and proceeded to move uphill fearing that a skier was caught or buried in the slide. Shortly after reaching the debris field and doing a quick tranciever search, a skier came down from a nearby face, and explained what had happened. His partner, who was now hiking down the ridge, had set his gear down near the cornice on the top, and was sitting down and transitioning behind the break in the cornice. The cornice then failed, and stepped back towards him, taking his gear with it. He narrowly avoided being taken off, and was able to scramble out. The resulting avalanche was on the shallow wind slab from the previous storm, and while the crown was small, it sluffed enough snow to bury a person. Be very cautious near cornices in the early spring, especially in rising temperatures and full sun. Also, even if you are not in the runout zone, large/heavy cornice debris can travel much farther and much faster than you think. Thankful that this situation ended with only shaken nerves. Stay safe out there.

Also, the skier was unable to retrieve one ski and one pole, and I’m sure he would appreciate them being recovered.
Temperature: 40°F Sky: Clear skies
New Snow: 5 in Elevation: 9000 ft


Multimedia

Caption: Cornice failure, crown, and path

Caption: Debris field