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Message #18125 of 18360  *NEW*
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Carol  
Sad story - avalanches in Wrightwood
1/26/08, 11:30am
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There was a series of avalanches up in Wrightwood yesterday and several people were caught in them with a couple still missing. One of the victims was a coworker, my age, an easy going and nice guy very much liked and respected by us all. He was skiing on one of his days off. Since I've only worked here a short time I didn't know him very well... But what I do know is he will be missed by all of us in the Forest Service family.

http://www.dailybulletin.com/news/ci_8083083

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-rain26jan26
,0,6189064.story?page=1

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Message #18126 of 18360  *NEW*
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Larry Levy  
Re: Sad story - avalanches in Wrightwood
1/28/08, 4:07pm
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Hi, Carol,

Sorry I haven't written back. I was having a log in problem here.

I'm very sorry to hear about this.

An avalanche is fairly unusual for SoCal, right?

Did this happen in an "off trail" area?

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" I lift up mine eyes to the hills, whence cometh my help.", Psalm 121
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Message #18128 of 18360  *NEW*
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Larry Levy
Carol  
Re: Sad story - avalanches in Wrightwood
2/2/08, 6:55am
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Yes, they're uncommon in Southern California - we don't even have an avalanche forecasting station down here, the closest one is in Truckee, CA, north of Lake Tahoe.

There was an avalanche in Sequoia National Park a few days ago as well that killed somebody. In both these cases the skiiers were off trail.

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Message #18130 of 18360  *NEW*
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Carol
Larry Levy  
Re: Sad story - avalanches in Wrightwood
2/2/08, 12:52pm
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>Yes, they're uncommon in Southern California - we don't even
>have an avalanche forecasting station down here, the closest
>one is in Truckee, CA, north of Lake Tahoe.
>
>There was an avalanche in Sequoia National Park a few days ago
>as well that killed somebody. In both these cases the skiiers
>were off trail.
>
>

I wish people would get the message about staying on the trails, winter or summer. I remember it used to make me nuts even to see people cut switchbacks in Yosemite.

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" I lift up mine eyes to the hills, whence cometh my help.", Psalm 121
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Message #18134 of 18360  *NEW*
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Larry Levy
Carol  
Re: Sad story - avalanches in Wrightwood
2/4/08, 7:02am (Last Edited: 2/4/08, 7:04am)
graphic
Cutting switchbacks is just plain dumb as it kills plants and causes erosion. But hiking or skiing off trail into remote trail-less areas definitely has an allure to those that want more adventure and want to blaze their own path and not be confined by a maintained trail. I've done it lots of times. One of my favorite places off trail is Moose Lake in the Sierra. I've hiked up there twice, the first time after taking a 3-day class/hiking trip called "Pathfinding" which taught the skills one needs when hiking off trail, like orientation.

If you know what you're doing and take necessary precautions I say go for it. After all probably the riskiest thing that people who like to recreate in the mountains do is drive to the trailhead.

What gets me about this accident is I don't think they were very cautious. I don't know much about avalanches, but I do know that they occur most often after a recent heavy snow. And that was a very heavy snow for that area and it probably wasn't a good idea to be out and about until that snow had settled a bit...

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The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com
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Message #18135 of 18360  *NEW*
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Carol
Larry Levy  
Re: Sad story - avalanches in Wrightwood
2/4/08, 8:38am
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I wonder which is more of a risk for avalanches, wet ehavy snow or a lot of flaky snow. I would guess the first one due to weight.

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" I lift up mine eyes to the hills, whence cometh my help.", Psalm 121
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Message #18136 of 18360  *NEW*
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Larry Levy
Carol  
Re: Sad story - avalanches in Wrightwood
2/4/08, 1:29pm
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Here is some good info...

http://nsidc.org/snow/avalanche/

"Avalanches are mostlikely to run either during or immediately after a storm where there has been significant snowfall. The 24 hours following a heavy snowstorm are the most critical. Consequently, it becomes important to be aware of current weather conditions as well as the conditions from the previous couple of days. Temperature, wind, and snowfall amount during storms can create fatal avalanche conditions during your outing. If there has been heavy snowfall the day or night before your trip, it may be wise to postpone the trip in order to avoid the increased avalanche danger."

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The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com
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Message #18137 of 18360  *NEW*
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Carol
Larry Levy  
Re: Sad story - avalanches in Wrightwood
2/4/08, 2:38pm
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>Here is some good info...
>
>http://nsidc.org/snow/avalanche/
>
>"Avalanches are mostlikely to run either during or immediately
>after a storm where there has been significant snowfall. The
>24 hours following a heavy snowstorm are the most critical.
>Consequently, it becomes important to be aware of current
>weather conditions as well as the conditions from the previous
>couple of days. Temperature, wind, and snowfall amount during
>storms can create fatal avalanche conditions during your
>outing. If there has been heavy snowfall the day or night
>before your trip, it may be wise to postpone the trip in order
>to avoid the increased avalanche danger."
>
>

Sounds like that, like so many other things in the wilderness boils down to "situational awaremenss." Knowing what to look for in the weather, trail conditions, etc.

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" I lift up mine eyes to the hills, whence cometh my help.", Psalm 121
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Message #18141 of 18360  *NEW*
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Larry Levy
Carol  
Re: Sad story - avalanches in Wrightwood
2/5/08, 8:29am
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One last article, this one is heartbreaking...

Brother found avalanche victim buried in snow
Robert Rogers, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 01/28/2008 10:05:29 PM PST

By nightfall, bone-chilling temperatures and unstable snow drifts had driven away most of the rescuers.

At that point, 32-year-old Darren Bodie Coffey had been missing roughly six hours, presumably buried under an avalanche that ripped a 200-yard fissure into the side of Sawmill Canyon.

But Keith Coffey, 37, refused to leave his little brother on the hill.

In the elements for five hours, plowing through waist-deep snow, Keith Coffey, a Rialto firefighter, probed the snow sheets in virtual darkness.

He was desperate to find his brother on the side of the mountain, driven by hope that he was trapped with an air pocket.

"There was no way I was leaving without him," Coffey said Monday. "I won't quit on anyone, let alone my brother."

It was around 8 p.m. when Coffey, now aided by a handful of Los Angeles County rescuers, felt Darren Coffey's ski boot deep beneath the snow.

They dug him out from about five feet of snow, then had to wait for a toboggan to be brought to the treacherous terrain. By 11:30 p.m., Keith Coffey had pulled his brother from the ice and brought him off the hill and into a waiting ambulance.

He performed CPR the entire time.

"One thing we learn is that they're not dead until they're warm and dead," said the longtime firefighter.

"I hoped the whole time he was one of those stories of someone being frozen a long time, where you can't detect a vital sign but they survive,"

Coffey said. "I never gave up."

Darren Coffey was pronounced dead at 12:14 a.m. Jan. 26 at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton.

Read more here:

http://www.sbsun.com/ci_8105191

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The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com
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Message #18142 of 18360  *NEW*
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Carol
Larry Levy  
Re: Sad story - avalanches in Wrightwood
2/5/08, 10:21am
graphic
That is so sad.

It was inspiring, though to read: "I won't quit on anyone, let alone my brother." I've known many firefighters and all would echo that phrase. They are remarkable people.


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" I lift up mine eyes to the hills, whence cometh my help.", Psalm 121
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