Date: 02.06.19
 Location:  Big North, Baldy Sidecountry Zone/Region:  Wood River Valley
 Activity:   Skiing
 Comments: On Tuesday, February 5th at approximately 1:30 PM, a group of five skiers and one snowboarder exited the Sun Valley Ski Area boundary from the top of Bald Mountain. The group headed northwest into a popular backcountry/sidecountry area adjacent to the ski resort known as “the Burn.” The experienced backcountry travelers were all carrying rescue gear (transceiver, shovel, and probe) and knew that the Sawtooth Avalanche Center had rated the hazard at upper and mid elevations as HIGH.

The group decided to travel down a ridge known as “Big North.” This ridge provides a run that does not exceed 30 degrees. Near 7800’ in elevation, Skier 1 and Snowboarder 1 noticed cracking along the ridge. They stopped to discuss the cracking and heard a large collapse. Upon inspection, they didn’t notice any snow moving and proceeded down to the group of four skiers about 325' below them. These skiers were grouped up at the end of the ridge feature and were discussing options to navigate the steeper gully below them. Upon rejoining the others and telling them about the large collapse, Skier 1 looked back uphill and saw a powder cloud heading right towards the group. This was approximately 45 seconds after hearing the collapse. Skier 1 remained on the ridge and grabbed a tree, and Snowboarder 1 and the other four skiers attempted to outrun the avalanche moving down the gulley towards them. The snowboarder and Skiers 2, 3 and 4 exited the gully by quickly moving downhill and to the right. Skier 5 exited to the left and was briefly knocked down by the avalanche. He quickly regained his footing and proceeded further left. Once the avalanche had passed Skiers 1 and 5, they communicated with the other four group members who were much further down slope and out of the gully. After confirming no one was caught, the group evaluated and discussed safe travel routes to exit the area. They chose to cross the debris in the gully and exit towards the west to avoid steep terrain overhead on the standard exit via the bike path. Once the group reached the road, they contacted ski patrol to inform them of the avalanche and that no one was injured.

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20190205 Avy Photo.jpg