Avalanches are scary.
There are obvious reasons why that is, but the photo below (taken 12/15), from the Utah Avalanche Center’s Brett Kobernik shows exactly why:
There are two very compelling and observable reasons why this slope was thought to be stable. Can you spot them? First is the large number of spooned tracks, and second is the massive artillery crater. And yet, the slope failed catastrophically. Luckily nobody was caught. If you look closely you can see skiers very near the crown of the avalanche – which makes it clear that anyone caught in this slide would have taken a nasty, probably fatal ride.
In his report, Brett Kobernik noted that Human Factors (which is a specific avalanche term) “played the MAJOR role in this avalanche. Acceptance, Commitment, Expert Halo, and Social Proof.” It appears that the party that triggered the failure knew that there was weak snow in that area, and wanted to get a closer look at it.
I find myself wondering how I would react in that situation.