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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tragedy Strikes In Senator Beck Basin


Tragedy struck the day after I took this photo of Senator Beck Basin. This is where Bobbie and I, with some reluctance, I might add, drew a line in the snow. Tempting as Senator Beck was, is, and always will be, to take even one more step would be tempting winter's fickle roulette wheel of misfortune.

I always feel a twinge of regret when we backtrack our way out these kinds of situations. Maybe now I won't... 

Excerpts from the Montrose Daily Press: https://www.montrosepress.com/content/tncms/live/


Backcountry dangers mount

Backcountry conditions proved deadly Jan. 5 (Saturday) when an avalanche swept down Senator Beck Basin, caught a group of skiers and buried a Longmont man, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center reports.
The group was able to dig out the victim... 40-year-old Peter Marshall.
“They did what they could for him...by the time they got him dug out, the outcome wasn’t good,” (Sheriff ) Mattivi said Monday...
Mattivi said it was his understanding a doctor in the group pronounced Marshall dead. His body had not yet been recovered from the scene Monday.
Search and rescue groups were awaiting better weather before heading in to recover Marshall, according to Mattivi. He said if dangerous conditions persist, search and rescue will try to arrange for avalanche mitigation work in the area.
“The conditions up there are pretty bad. There are slides running all over the place and we got (more) snow (Sunday) night. That only makes it worse,” said Mattivi.
According to a preliminary report from the CAIC, Marshall and his companions were participating in an avalanche safety course when an unintentional avalanche came down the afternoon of Jan. 5... at an elevation of about 13,000 feet...(it) caught six people, and triggered a second avalanche, which went over the debris pile from the first slide.
Marshall was buried beneath the debris from both of the slides. The other skiers dug him from a snow depth estimated at a minimum of 8 feet and attempted to revive him...
CDOT was on Red Mountain for hours Sunday and Monday, shooting off potential avalanches before they could naturally trigger and flow over U.S. 550.
“We had reported to us two natural slides hit the road,” Schwantes said. CDOT maintenance crews assessed conditions and determined Red Mountain Pass should be closed Sunday night. 
Heavy snow, with strong winds are hitting a weak and unstable snowpack, making avalanches more likely.
“Avalanches on weak layers buried deep in the snowpack will be easy for you to trigger,” the CAIC said in its avalanche forecast.
“These layers are now getting crushed under a significant load of fresh snow. You can trigger avalanches from the bottom of the slope, from adjacent slopes, or from a distance.”
Additionally, avalanches that break on weak layers can spread widely over the terrain, CAIC said.
“Cracking, collapsing and recent avalanches are all signs of a dangerous snowpack and suggest additional care around steep slopes. Be extremely careful traveling near or below steep slopes today.”

Starting point to Senator Beck Basin on Red Mountain Pass


















Another photo of Senator Beck Basin, located in the upper left at 1,3000 feet.


23 comments:

  1. Sad for Peter Marshall, but incredibly happy that you listened to your gut and backed away from that basin. You are a smart man, in spite of having somewhat of a death wish, this proves that that wish in more concept than reality. Whew! Grateful.

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  2. That was a close one. Such a beautiful alpine basin, but good thing you were aware of the danger. Glad you and Bobbie are good to go another day!

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    1. Yeah...Just when I thought I spied a reasonably safe route to Sen. Beck Basin I "vibed" some unspoken reluctance from Bobbie.
      We were just speaking about you...wondering where you are. We will be heading south next week...taking our time with stops at St George to pick up Goldie, then Gov't springs Boondock on Lake Mead, on to Havasu, then Wickenburg, then to Mc Dowel Mountain for some extensive Mountain Bike riding on those gorgeous trails. You should meet us there for a week or so :) Then on down to Tucson area... Mark and BJ

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    2. Oooh im jealous. I am planning to meet my dad in Utah in April though. Interested in seeing some of the Eastern side of the state. Keep it in mind for you and Bobbie if schedules allow?

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    3. Juliet, we usually are camping in eastern utah from end march thru april so it will be fun to meet up with you and chris!!!
      mark and bobbie

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  3. Years ago while climbing a peak in the Sierras with a group we were half way up and in cloud. The leader went round to each member and asked how they felt about proceeding. Everyone said "lets keep going". The leader announced that we would turn around and head back to base camp. Upon reaching camp we looked back at our peak, University Peak, and it was in full sunshine and the weather perfect.

    I have never regretted our leaders decision and of course, the incident, which is forever at the back of my mind.

    Went back the next year and made a successful summit.

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    1. It's as if the Universe is saying, "Patience Grasshopper. Wait till the time is right." Also, more and more, I ask this question: "Is the experience/adventure/thrill worth the risk?"
      mark

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  4. Sad story. You shouldn't have regrets about backtracking out of a situation like that.It's always wise to pay attention to Bobbie's vibes :-)
    Hope to see you soon!

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    1. Always? Ok, will do.
      Heading out to the Colorado Boy for a Big Birthday Celebration! Here's to good health...even as it falters :)
      mark

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  5. Life is so random... blessed when weand on the side of providence

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  6. Follow those little niggles as my daughter says. They won't stear you wrong. So sorry for the fatality. With a group I'm glad it wasn't more. Sounds like a nice upcoming plan. Important to have things to look forward to.

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  7. Hard to believe you can lose your life in such a beautiful setting as pictured in this post. I would hope that this blog post would makes it's way around the mountain west and help prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again this winter.
    Count your lucky stars Mark & Bobbie.

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  8. Wow. Beautiful but dangerous place. Glad you guys backed away.

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  9. It is rare that you get such definitive evidence that turning around was such a smart choice. I'm glad that you followed your instincts and went home.

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    1. It was a wakeup call...I just hope I remember it.
      mark

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  10. "... tempting winter's fickle roulette wheel of misfortune"

    So true in nearly every case. Sad to hear about this avalanche fatality.

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    1. Sad indeed...especially since they were up there to learn how not to become a victim of avalanche.
      Thanks, Jill

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  11. Always a good idea to listen to the vibes. I love seeing your snowscapes, from AZ.

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