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Old 03-23-2012, 07:53 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Okay what are your thoughts? I think we're just having a healthy discussion in here, not sure if anybody's reached any "conclusions" yet...
These discussion are hard. No one likes to think about these things, after they happen.

The truth is NO ONE IS TO BLAME. Things happen, we have all been in situations we should not have, and shit happens.

It seemed the wrong questions were being asked, trying to assign blame to the "GUIDE" or "company", as if they hold fault. Avalanche's happen. There is not "right or wrong", there is only "choose one thing over another", because of information, or even in the extreme example of the person who never checks snow history conditions, slope angle, or ignores obvious visible signs. All pure chance with different approaches and reactions/actions.

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Old 03-23-2012, 08:37 PM   #22 (permalink)
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These discussion are hard. No one likes to think about these things, after they happen.

The truth is NO ONE IS TO BLAME. Things happen, we have all been in situations we should not have, and shit happens.

It seemed the wrong questions were being asked, trying to assign blame to the "GUIDE" or "company", as if they hold fault. Avalanche's happen. There is not "right or wrong", there is only "choose one thing over another", because of information, or even in the extreme example of the person who never checks snow history conditions, slope angle, or ignores obvious visible signs. All pure chance with different approaches and reactions/actions.
I think it's the inner safety jerk coming out in me asking all the questions. At work I'm a safety guy, and we're always speculating about why things happen. The current theory is that everything is preventable and there is no such thing as an "accident" although the real world certainly doesn't seem to agree with that theory.

In the early 90's we had the stupid worker theory, where they basically blamed all accidents on a workers poor behavior. After that there was a period where it was all managements "fault" (although we don't actually find fault or blame in safety, we look for immediate causes and basic causes).

So looking at this incident here: the immediate cause that somebody was buried in an avalanche was that they were snowboarding where an avalanche happened. The basic or root cause of that is where it gets complex. Again there are multiple causation theories which basically say that no one specific event or person caused the accident or allowed it to happen, but several things contributed.

1) In this case I would say (potentially) proceeding into the backcountry under an avalanche warning could have been a basic cause (again, I'm not 100% sure if the area they were in was under a warning)

2) The guide may have made a mistake when assessing the conditions, may have not assessed the right area, number of areas, etc.

3) The group may have strayed away from the guide, or taken a wrong turn

I guess what I have trouble accepting is that this kind of this "just happens". Bastard children just happen, getting killed in an avalanche doesn't just happen. I don't want to promote assigning blame, but I think it's healthy to debate the possible basic causes of an incident to see if there's a way of preventing it from happening in the future.
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:51 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Cool dude^^^^ healthy debate is good...I agree.

I like too think in "what ifs" too, but in avalanche terrain, there is no law of truth, or blame, or ay of that, there is only the one law, that the only way to be 100% , is to NOT be in the BC at all.

Once I can accept that fact, then I can be clear minded to make the best decisions I can. If others are with me with the same mind set, then we can all prepare the best we can with that knowledge in mind.

One of the worst accidents this year happened with a huge group of pro skiers/ pro skier judges, expert Backcountry slayers of pow, up in WA. Armchair quarterbacking is tempting, but makes no sense no matter the end conclusion of blame.

If you really think about what Jeremy Jones says when he says "no one is above the law", it makes great sense.
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Old 03-23-2012, 09:06 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Nowhere in that article did it say that it was a snowboarder. Although statistically likely, nowhere did it say that they triggered it. Avalanches can occur naturally.
That article gives virtually no information at all on what actually happened. I'm not absolving the guide of responsibility, but the fact is that we don't know what happened here.

Nowhere does it say anything about an avalanche warning, and even then there is plenty of ways to find things that are safe to ride even in the periods of the highest avy danger.

If you want to be perfectly safe from avalanches then don't go into uncontrolled terrain period. Even then you still aren't perfectly safe.

Yes the guide is responsible for the group's safety, but he could have made what all the signs say are right decisions and still get caught up. Maybe he didn't - but we don't have the story here.
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Old 03-23-2012, 09:10 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Cool dude^^^^ healthy debate is good...I agree.

I like too think in "what ifs" too, but in avalanche terrain, there is no law of truth, or blame, or any of that, there is only the one law, that the only way to be 100% , is to NOT be in the BC at all.
Yeah I think the same way during the summer when Kayak season is going on. If I roll and knock myself out upside down, I better hope there's someone on the rivers edge to save me! But I still do it. I think I know what you're saying, there's a certain point where you say to yourself that you've taken all the necessary steps to comfortably give it a go, and if your number still comes up, so be it?!?

That said, when they put out river warnings due to the spring flood, I'm going to stay off the river!

Cheers,
Aaron
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Old 03-23-2012, 10:30 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Yeah I think the same way during the summer when Kayak season is going on. If I roll and knock myself out upside down, I better hope there's someone on the rivers edge to save me! But I still do it.

I think I know what you're saying, there's a certain point where you say to yourself that you've taken all the necessary steps to comfortably give it a go, and if your number still comes up, so be it?!?

That said, when they put out river warnings due to the spring flood, I'm going to stay off the river!

Cheers,
Aaron
Caution is good in any form of water, being air breathing animals. Glad to hear you are aware. We have years of amazing water levels here in CO.

The underlined could be a very dangerous mentality for your partners... because you become complacent with a "finality". I would personally confront you with that summary. Nothing personal of course. Strategy to stay alive is more important than anything else, is my summary and objective. If I know there might be the slightest issue with an area I am not familiar with, I will be more cautious, even if all the signs are showing "green light". An example of strategy being more important than just letting it go, even though I "know" or feel certain about a theory (green light). The opposite is also true, like; I am super familiar with an area, and let it go with a party run with 3 dudes....not good for some peoples stomach's or comfort level. Finding partners can be hard. Dogs are good.


I guess I take it much further to stay alive. I have a family, and I personally will use more instinct and tools ( airbag, Avalung) seem no brainers to me. Personal limits are important to understand, and group dynamics are always changing.

Inherant risk is big in many endeavors....just a job choice, or life choice comes with more risk than being buried by snow.


Tough subject, regardless skier or boarder. Glad to see civility prevailing.

rock on,
Matt in Colorado

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Old 03-23-2012, 11:52 PM   #27 (permalink)
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More on the subject...

Fourth special avalanche warning - 660News
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Old 03-24-2012, 11:56 AM   #28 (permalink)
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There is a concept called "free will" and thus you cannot control human behavior. Sure you can do factor analysis, statistical analysis, probability, risk assessments and all sorts of fancy shit...but predicting human behavior on any one/single event/decision is not possible.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:09 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Also brings up the ethical question of what extent society has the right to dictate an individual's behaviour, even potentially self-destructive behaviour. That's the type of debate you could go around and around on forever and never reach a consensus.
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Old 03-24-2012, 04:39 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Also brings up the ethical question of what extent society has the right to dictate an individual's behaviour, even potentially self-destructive behaviour. That's the type of debate you could go around and around on forever and never reach a consensus.

yup, there are mental health commitment laws, drunk driving laws, gun laws, helmet laws,...we need bc and avalanche laws that only avalanches can take out douchebags
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