I know that the Jaime Pierre thread
is bound to bring some arm chair quarterbacking into the thread. So this is going to be the thread to talk about what happened, questions, thoughts.
First off, early season snow is some of the scariest around. The Continental and intermountain states, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, etc, got decent snowfalls in early October. Then like clock work next to nothing for weeks. The temps didn't get warm enough to melt it off. That thin layer of snow experienced a strong temperature gradient in a lot of the areas and grew facets like crazy. Facets are a great layer for snow to slide on as it is super weak. Add some big storms and wind events and it's a recipe for disaster. Sounds like Utah is right in the middle of this at the moment.
Second, just because there isn't much snow on the ground doesn't mean you need not to worry much. In fact it's quite the opposite. Remember, if there is enough snow to ride, there is enough snow to slide. As little as 6" of ground cover has produced life taking avalanches. Think about it though. With the relatively small amount of snow on the ground, if you go for a ride, you are going to be striking stuff like rocks, trees, stumps, logs, more easily than when there is 10+ feet on the ground. You're going to get broken up. Think of the consequence if it does go.
Third, bring and use your avalanche gear. I don't care if you think you need it or not. It helps set your mind into thinking about avalanches and consequences. Turn that brain on, it's the only thing that is going to save your ass. I highly recommend that every one who skis or rides take a basic avy course, or at least attend some of the free seminars. Just to get an understanding of what you are dealing with in your area. Roads get swept by avalanches just like riders. Avalanches do sometimes happen in bounds. If you know what the warning signs are, you just might avoid a bad situation. This stuff is easy, but you need to learn about it.
Finally, we can talk about this accident and other happens in the backcountry/sidecountry right now. Early season dangers abound. Let's try to keep it on topic, but I'll let this thread tread into areas where I am not going to stand for it on the Jamie Pierre thread. He paid the ultimate price. So if you are going to douche up a thread, douche up this one.