Mammoth Patrollers killed today

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Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby Tom Moriarty » Thu Apr 06, 2006 7:18 pm

Breaking News but 3 patrollers were killed and a 4th rescued as they fell into a volcanic gas vent. Ten others were injured, but don't know if they were employees of MMSA or not. Just heard it on the news and came onto Liftlines hoping to find details.
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re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby Admin » Thu Apr 06, 2006 7:28 pm

Yeah, I'm working on it. I'd hoped to have a Ski News update out by now, but we've been without power for 4 hours now. Just heard about the Mammoth incident on the little battery-powered radio I'm listening to.
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re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby Tom Moriarty » Thu Apr 06, 2006 7:50 pm

I went onto the Mammoth Forums and apparently the vent was off of Chair 3 (FaceLift Express) near Christmas Bowl. I was a groomer at Mammoth for a short while back in the early 80's and never knew something like that existed on the main side of the ski area. I knew they were on the backside, maybe it is something that opened fairly recently.
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Re: re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby Patrick » Thu Apr 06, 2006 8:09 pm

Tom Moriarty wrote:apparently the vent was off of Chair 3 (FaceLift Express) near Christmas Bowl.

I think that what I saw when I was there in June :? Yikes!!!
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re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby snowave » Thu Apr 06, 2006 8:37 pm

I believe its been there for a very long time..


so sad.. :(
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re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby schubwa » Thu Apr 06, 2006 9:55 pm

I called my best buddy Billy Gural who has lived in Mammoth for ages. We used to teach skiing there for a couple of decades. I'm very familiar with that particular fumarole located at the bottom of China/Christmas bowl on the east side of the old "Face of Chair Three". We've never seen it turn into a terrain trap. It's usually more open, kind of crater-like, with a steamy pumice dirt pile surrounded by snow. It's usually roped off and you turn to the skiers left as you pass, no big deal. It always gives you a rotten egg Hydrogen Sulfide whiff as you glide by.
Recently they had tree kills with carbon dioxide emissions not far away at Horseshoe Lake (on the "other side of the mountain"). The gas was pooling in low lying areas and killing lodgepole pines. Mammoth Mountain is a dormant volcano with a spectacular past (look up Long Valley Caldera).
Billy said it's been snowing like no man there for weeks and maybe those guys fell into a recently-formed rabbit hole at the fumarole. I can imagine the nightmare of clattering into a 20' hole filled with poisonous gasses and not having much time...
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re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby Tom Moriarty » Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:11 pm

It said they were replacing the fencing around it after all the new snowfall, when the snow gave away and sucked them into the vent.
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re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby Jonny D » Fri Apr 07, 2006 7:35 am

I remember being in that area last may, and smelling it, but not seeing it.

This really has been a truely tragic season at mammoth, given the 6 other deaths there this winter. Such a sharp contrast to the amazing snow season they've been having (640" already!)

I can't imagine what the other patrollers must be going through...
Relax... I'm a Physicist. I do this all the time....
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re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Apr 07, 2006 12:27 pm

The Christmas Bowl sulfur vent on 11/13/04
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By midseason the vent is nearly always buried, and the smell is not as strong as in November or June when it is exposed. Obviously the gas is trapped under the snow. I don't remember the fencing always being there when the snowpack is deep, but I'm sure it is.

What a freak accident. Perhaps they should excavate it after each big storm to keep the gas from being trapped. That may not be easy when you've had 141 inches of snow in the past 2 weeks.

The story was front page in the L.A. Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-04 ... -headlines
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re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby Killclimbz » Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:00 pm

I still can't believe this happened. Bizzare and sad. Tony I think you are spot on. Something is going to be done about that. Excavating it, maybe building a more solid structure around it, instead of a fence. Like a big cement wall. Not sure, but I know if I was in charge, I would be making some changes. Excavating it might end up being as dangerous as putting a fence around it. I would imagine the experts will come up with some idea on how to mitigate this.
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Re: re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby lookn4powder » Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:23 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:The Christmas Bowl sulfur vent on 11/13/04 <snip>

By midseason the vent is nearly always buried, and the smell is not as strong as in November or June when it is exposed. Obviously the gas is trapped under the snow.


I have skied within 20-30 feet of it and never seen it because it is buried! I would smell a very faint sulfur smell but I associated it more with a sewage holding tank--which made no sense to me.

This tragedy is huge and far reaching. I hope that the bereaved--the families, friends, and Mammoth ski patrol--will understand that a large, probably world-wide community of skiers share in their grief with this loss. We very much understand that ski patrolling is not without risk and we appreciate their dedication.

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re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby Tom Moriarty » Fri Apr 07, 2006 7:46 pm

Well I am pretty bummed out, I knew Walter Rosenthal back in my days at Mammoth as I use to drive the patrol to the cannons for Avalanche control. What a tragedy to lose a 34 year veteran that was one of the best in the country for avalanche control.
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re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby Sir Felgar » Sun Apr 09, 2006 4:29 pm

Tragic incident to be sure. Perhaps the only way to avoid it in the future is to fence off a larger area, so that the patrollers don't have to risk going near the opening too closely. GPS devices should be accurate enough to aid in this.
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re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:11 pm

More L.A. Times stories:
Mammoth Area's Beauty Masks Its Natural Dangers
THE VICTIMS
Mammoth Ski Patrol Deaths Hit Swiftly
How Routine Turned to Tragedy at Mammoth

And Mammoth is contributing Friday's ticket sales to a memorial fund:
https://secure.mammothmountain.com/memorial/index.cfm

FYI On my last run Sunday in deteriorating weather I encountered 3 skiers calling for patrol in the stunted trees between 2 of the avalanche chutes on chair 22. One of them was in intense pain if he moved his leg and thought it might be broken. I skied through Avy 2 and traversed to the top of chair 4 and talked to patrol there. The accident had been reported but I gave them its precise location. They had their work cut out for them to evacuate the injured skier from that spot, but I'm sure they managed somehow.
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Re: re: Mammoth Patrollers killed today

Postby Admin » Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:28 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:And Mammoth is contributing Friday's ticket sales to a memorial fund:
https://secure.mammothmountain.com/memorial/index.cfm


Dang, Tony!

http://www.firsttracksonline.com/news/s ... 46508.shtm
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