Skier Triggers Avalanche on Mt. Washington, Survives Six-Minute Burial
❄ Skier disregard dangerous risk of avalanche issued by Mount Washington Avalanche Center
❄ Their skiing partner's beacon failed, but noticed a hand sticking out of the snow
❄ After 15 minutes of digging, the skier was freed
A skier was buried for six minutes after triggering an avalanche on Mount Washington Wednesday morning, and survived unscathed.
Three skiers skiing Wildcat Ski Area decided to ski the Wildcat Ridge Trail and landslide terrain feature on the east side of Wildcat B in Carter Notch. One of the skiers decided it was too risky a plan, given the dangerous risk of avalanches issued by the Mount Washington Avalanche Center.
"Natural and human triggered avalanches are likely on all aspects and elevations. Moving through, under, or adjacent to steep terrain will be dangerous today with avoidance being the best strategy," read the warning.
The two skiers disregard the warning and the third went off on their own, but gave a member of the group an avalanche beacon to use.
The two skiers decided to make the run down Wildcat B one at a time. The first skier to go triggered a large soft slab avalanche at the steepest part of the slope, and was caught and carried 500 feet down a narrow, constricting gully.
The skier was completely buried except for their hand, according to the Avalanche Center.
The other skier used the borrowed beacon to try and find the buried skier, but could not get a signal. They then noticed the hand sticking out of the snow. The skier began digging and found their friend after approximately six minutes. The buried skier was freed within 15 minutes.
The identities of the skiers were not disclosed.
"The outcome of this event had serious potential to be fatal and the Mount Washington Avalanche Center staff is happy that the group of two skiers skied away from this event uninjured and hopefully learned several important lessons," the Avalanche Center said in a statement.
The Avalanche Center said a landslide during the summer years ago cleared trees, forming a terrain that collects snow and is vulnerable to avalanches.
A snowboarder outran an avalanche in Tuckerman's Ravine on Mount Washington in February after a skier inadvertently triggered it. The avalanche carried the snowboarder a couple of hundred feet down the mountain into Chicken Rock Gully. The boarder remained close to the surface and was not injured.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH