BC Zone Observation Report
Sunday, May 21, 2017 at 12:00 AM
Our group ascended Point 12,118 which sits opposite Vazquez Mountain to the west. Started from the Jones Pass Parking Lot.
The storm system that came through and dropped a ton of snow had turned into crust. We had ridden in the Herman Gulch area 5/19 and witnessed the fresh snow turn into slushy slop, followed by a quick cooldown when the snow fell in the afternoon and formed a crust. On 5/21 we noticed most everything except the most protected snow had a thick crust on it. As we ascended we noticed a layer of new snow, maybe 2-4 inches deep, sitting on top of the previous storm system crust layer. This new snow began to rollerball a little on the eastern aspects as the sun warmed things up.
Our group of four ascended Point 12,118 which sits opposite Vazquez Mountain to the west. Two of the group decided about half way up to turn around and ski what we climbed due to the appearance of some rollerballing occurring near our ascension path. Myself and my partner decided to summit and ride down a north eastern facing chute that had not been subject to the sun as much. We had both ridden this area a few times in years past but had not done this particular chute before, since it is steeper than some of the others sitting further up valley. My partner descended about 3/4 down and stopped in a safe zone so we could regroup and descend to the other two members of our party. He rode down the least steep portion of the chute and noticed a few rollerballs starting there as well. I descended next and followed a fall line to drop in. This line had a convexity and became steeper. I did a few turns and was picking up speed when the slope to my left began to crack. To my right were two large rocks poking out so i decided to go left so if I was swept off my feet I would not be dragged through them. I straight lined it hoping to escape but got swept off my feet. We believe the slide carried me about 200 feet. I was able to keep my face skyward and as I came to a stop I didnt have any snow on my head so I threw a hand up so as the debris settled my partner would be able to see me quickly. My left side ended up being buried under about a foot of wet snow, while my right side was free. My partner reached me about 10 seconds after I stopped and checked me over and extricated me. I did not have any injuries and was able to snowboard out. We met the rest of our party who where not too far away and were attempting to skin up to meet us, and we all left from there. Looking at the slide afterwards it appears that only the new snow that fell after 5/19 slid out, as the slide did not step down any further into older layers. The crown only looked like a few inches tall, but that was enough to take me out.
AS / u
Footage of a skier caught, carried and partially buried in an avalanche/ Berthoud Pass 5.21.17