Whales back slide

Kootenay Boundary

kellytooleski , Sunday 2nd January, 2022 8:35PM


There has already been a MIN report about this slide on the east side of Whales back. My interest in adding to it is #1 about being careful with uptrack locations. Is there overhead hazard? #2 understanding that when you ski or ski cut in hazardous conditions in the upper area of the slope consider that other people far down the mountain can be killed as a result of your actions. Here is what happened to us that day. We were using a popular uptrack that is on the White Water Touring Map. It climbs through dense trees next to one of the gullies that received the run-out from the slide. At 3 or 4 points the uptrack comes over to the edge of the gully. We noted the wind pillows on the side of Whales Back. We didn't feel like we were in a dangerous place. Whales Back was along way from there. Less than an hour later we were nearing the saddle when we noticed the most beautiful sun dog. Lots of ice crystals in the air. A couple on minutes later we saw that Whales Back had slid. A helicopter showed up soon after that. And spent alot of time looking around. We are a very conservative group. We skied down our planned route through the same trees that we climbed up through. Today I climbed the same uptrack and saw that the avalanche tore through the area on the side of this uptrack. Exactly where we stood less than an hour before the slide. The area where the uptrack cuts to the edge above the gully 3 or 4 times. The area was decimated. 5 inch trees were snapped off. Standing there today made me shudder to think how close we were to being hit. My take away is -Don't underestimate how far a slide can have a very dangerous effect. -When setting an uptrack notice where large trees change to small ones. - If we are skiing high on slopes with a history of regularly sliding we should consider that there may be people touring below us.