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It Would Not Happen To Us | UNITED STATES, WYOMING | 12/29/2008, by powderjunkyStaying Alive in Avalanche Terrain:
In 93% of avalanche accidents, the avalanche is triggered by the victim or someone in the victim's party.
He goes on to explain how human factors such as overconfidence, attitude, group management, complacency and poor communication often are primary factors in fatal avalanches.
But what if the victim did everything right? This past Saturday, Dave Nodine, a 31 year old Wilson, WY resident lost his life inbounds at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Dave did everything right. He was inbounds on a HIGH avalanche danger day. He still wore his beacon while skiing inbounds. And he skied with a partner.
So where is the lack of judgment? Was it with Ski Patrol. Not likely. The Jackson Hole Ski Patrol is one of the most competent patrols you can find. Everyday they have the impossible mission of making an avalanche breeding ground (AKA 90% of all runs in-bounds at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort), safe to ski. These guys and gals are leading experts in the field of avalanche safety. They were on the scene and recovered Dave under 8 feet of snow within 10 minutes! They likely shoveled over 2 TONS of snow 5 minutes faster than the 15 minute window for a 90% successful avalanche recovery.
Dave did all the right things, and the Patrol did all the right things. How did this tragedy happen? Unfortunately it is a sobering reminder that we do not control our own fate. It doesn't matter what level avalanche certification we have, how many years we have been skiing, what we think the snowpack can handle, or how many times a run has been skied. It scares me to think that I can make good, safe decisions and still end up a corpse.
Whether you are driving down the rode, working in the office, or skiing, every moment could be our last. The best thing we can all do is sit down take a deep breath, grieve and pray with Dave's family and friends, love, make amends, and be thankful for all we have been given.