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Boy Scouts Rescued in Utah Avalanche

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I wonder what would have happened without the rescue. I would like to think 39 people could have figured out some way to dig themselves out, particullarly if they are Scouts.

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About fifteen years ago I took a winter camping seminar with a final exam spending a night at 7000 ft on Mt. Rainer in January. They brought us into the visitor center in the evening to dry us and warm us up after all day building igloos to sleep in. The Park Ranger gave us a talk on Avalanches safety. The one thing that I will remember always from that talk was his percentages of survival. These are close to what he said: 100 % of the people who dig themselves out survive, 75 % whose party dig them out make it and only 10 % who are dug out by a rescue crew that was brought in live.

The ones who die that their party digs out are usually killed by traumatic injury and the most of ones who are dead by the time the rescue crew gets there are dead due to hypothermia and suffocation.


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An amazing story but if you think about it, the troop should have been more aware of their surrondings. I would imagine that they chose that spot to dig their caves because the snow was deep and butted up against the cliff. But the reason for the deepness of the snow was because the wind sheers across the top and blows the snow on top and creating the cornice that was the overhang. Also the winds fromt eh bottom is blowing the snow to the cliff. But the winds from top and bottom are creating the cornice. And every now and then, the cornice breaks off and falls to the bottom. And when strong enough or weighted down enough, the whole thing at the bottom could have slipped further down the mountain. Luckily, they dug their caves towards the bottom end of the slope and only 500 feet of Cornice came down, it could have been worse.


Just yet another story to remind us to be aware of our surroundings and to respect mother nature out there. Look for the signs and heed them and you should be safe enough.


I imagine it won't be something they will ever forget, even if they did sleep through the whole thing! ;)

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Here is the accident report from www.avalanche.org.

When we sleep in snowcaves we keep shovels inside just in case of collaspe.

Our next campout. Snowcaves in low risk area for avalanche


I can think of better ways of getting awakened than a probe poking me in the ribs ;-)


Accident Report


Date: 03-05-2004

Submitted By: WWAN

Place: The Sinks, near the top of Logan Canyon

State: UT Country: USA

Fatalities: 0 Activity: OTHER

Summary: 39 Scouts & leaders buried in snow caves by cornice fall


Snow caves protect sleeping Boy Scouts in Utah avalanche

By The Associated Press


SALT LAKE CITY A huge wall of snow collapsed and buried the entrances to a series of manmade caves where more than three dozen Boy Scouts and their leaders were sleeping during a winter survival camping trip, but everyone was rescued unharmed.

The Scouts had carved the caves deep into the snow on a ridge in northern Utah's Logan Canyon, at an elevation of 7,400 feet.

"You're pretty cozy inside of them," said Randy Maurer, the father of one of the Scouts. "You're completely oblivious to what's going on outside."

After the 39 Scouts and Scout leaders went to sleep Friday night, wind gusting to 64 mph piled snow into a huge cornice hanging over the slope where the Scouts dug their caves.

The 500-foot cornice collapsed just before 4 a.m. Saturday, burying the entrances to the caves under 6 to 8 feet of snow.

Insulated by the thick snow around them, the Scouts were unaware of the problem.

"It was a little bit more than what we expected to wake up to," Maurer said.

The avalanche was heard by a group of Scout leaders who were sleeping in a nearby trailer, and they used an emergency roadside telephone to call 911.

"That probably made quite a bit of noise, I'm imagining," Cache County sheriff's Lt. Von Williamson said of the avalanche. "But if they would have all been in the caves, I shudder to think how long it would be before we would have heard about this."

Williamson said the Scout leaders who called for help knew approximately where the caves were, and emergency crews used shovels and snow probes to locate the Scouts.

Some of the boys, ages 12 to 16, were awakened when they were jabbed by the avalanche probes the rescuers were pushing into the snow.

Maurer told The Salt Lake Tribune he was awakened by the sounds of the rescue effort.

"That was a big shock," said his son, Brock. "It was a wake-up call for sure."

By 7:05 a.m., everyone had been pulled from the caves uninjured.

"Some were pretty scared, some were only somewhat upset," Williamson said. "It seemed to depend upon the age of the kids. The older kids took it a little more in stride."







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