Where Credit is Due

Last week a skier was buried in an avalanche at Crystal. I wrote about the event in an earlier post, and the media has covered the incident thoroughly. However, an important piece of the event has not been covered, and I wanted to take the time to give credit where it is due.

When Emily Anderson was caught in a small slide on the I-5 return trail out of Northway, she was following a group of five or so other skiers breaking trail. When another skier came in hot on their tails, he cut above the group and started the avalanche that swept Emily into a tree well and buried her. The area was not an avalanche path, but it is steep enough to slide. It occurred at the beginning of I-5 just past the entrance to Stump Patch, in a wide spot on the horizontal trail.

The skiers in front of Emily and those behind her saw her get buried. They watched her and immediately started a beacon search. Many witnesses describe the beacon search as unsuccessful due to the fact that so many people were there–everyone that skied Northway was exiting out this trail–and the new arrivals were still beeping. During the beacon search that did not prove successful (Emily was not wearing a transceiver) the group started probing. Ski patrol had already been called. When ski patroller, Peter Dale, arrived, Emily had been located by a probe strike and together the group dug dig her out.

Emily survived because of the group of skiers that found her before ski patrol arrived. Steve Broback was one of those skiers, and he caught the rescue on film. See the video below. For anyone with questions about where the accident happened or how she was found, check it out. Emily is found around 11:20 on the video.

Other skiers also helped search for Emily. I’ve heard a few names, but I’m sure the core group has not been acknowledged. The video demonstrates the seriousness and diligence of those involved in the rescue. I would like to extend a personal high-five to all those that searched for Emily. Can anyone tell me who was involved? I would really like to make sure everyone that helped out in this rescue gets the credit they deserve. Please comment below if you were involved and can offer more details.

Again, thanks to the Crystal skiers who immediately began this search and saved the life of a very lucky young woman. Bravo you guys. Bravo.

Paul Baugher also extended his gratitude on the Crystal Website today. Link to it here.

Click on image to play

8 thoughts on “Where Credit is Due

  1. Absolutely chilling. I can imagine the sinking feeling the searchers had when they couldn’t get a good beacon signal. Glad Crystal Mountain has such a great community of folks watching each others’ backs.

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  2. That is a bit chilling. There are lots of good lessons learned here, not the least of which when there are a lot of people that things can become a bit of a nigthmare. It is great that so many people had probes and shovels and were able to start searching right away. This is a great opportunity to learn from a real world experience, and I am so glad they were able to find her before too long. Takeaways for me: 1) do a beacon check with your buddies at the start of the day, even in-bounds, you never know when a gate may open or you decide to hit sidecountry, 2) don’t assume everyone out there has a beacon 3) if you have a crowd after a burial, get one person to personally check everyones beacon to make sure they are in search 4) post a “guard” to verify everyone that shows up turns their beacon to search 5) Identify a point person to identify and interview witnesses and establish a search zone 6) coordinate everyone with probes/beacons into a grid search. Lastly, practice with your beacon and probe ( I am guilty here so will hit the beacon station next time up). See you on the slopes!

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    1. Thanks Doug for your thoughtful comment. No matter how many times you’ve trained with your beacon, you can always do more. We ski patrollers get a beacon search in once a week, at the minimum.

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  3. Will Hart was the guy that probed her first. He yelled back at me to check. I probed his spot and hit, moved to the right and missed, moved backed to the left and hit. I yelled for a shoval and we jumped down hill. Will, myself, and another guy (I don’t know his name) started digging in towards her. I uncovered her hand and heard her muffled screams. We uncovered her head when patrol and an ER doctor came up. Will and I back up so they could get access and take care of her.

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  4. Steve Broback

    Thanks for posting this Kim. I was skiing with my son Peter and we were just in front of Emily. We turned around within seconds of the “whomp” but Emily was already buried up to her neck. In another second the snow was over her head and still moving. Peter and I skied in and started searching where we thought she ended up based on the speed of the avalanche and the position we last saw her. Peter really had it together. He was the first to yell for everyone to turn beacons to search. He also had the patrol emergency number in his speed dial and made the call to patrol after the initial frantic search. It was incredibly frustrating that we couldn’t just ski into the slide path and pull her out. It appeared that she could have been just below the surface but she was stopped by a tree and buried deeper than we thought.

    Another skier probing was Aaron McMillin. There were a lot of people involved and everyone put out a full effort until she was found.

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  5. Luke Mislinski

    I was one of the searchers attempting the beacon search. I echo what others have said about how scary the whole situation was. I was more than a bit worried that she wasn’t going to make it given how long she was buried. I can’t say enough how awesome it was that everyone sprung into action, even though the level of avalanche rescue experience and training was highly varied. Thank you for calling out credit to the amazing community of riders at Crystal!

    Also – if anyone in the patrol would like to reach out to me to get additional information on the incident, please contact me via email. I’d be more than happy to help out in gathering lessons learned on this.

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