Big Avalanche Results and More About Treewell Safety


Paul Baugher, the Ski Patrol Director at Crystal Mountain, is concerned about treewell safety. Treewells are the airy voids around trees draped heavily with snow. If you fall into one headfirst you might not be able to get out. Check out this video with Crystal’s Paul Baugher and patroller Christina Von Mertens that offers tips about how to avoid getting stuck in one.

Tree Wells & SIS Safety: What To Do If You Go Down from SIS Safety Videos on Vimeo.

The snow is still draped heavily on the trees here in the Cascades, and the forecast is calling for one last storm tonight. Then it looks like things will mellow out. We might even get some warm high pressure later in the week. In the mean time, the dangers still lurk. We set off some big explosives yesterday in Southback, both from the helicopter and on foot. I was on the hand route, and we worked mainly in Avalanche Basin. We got some big results below Appliances Chutes that wrapped around to lower starting zones. The debris ripped out trees in Damn Fine Forest and ran all the way to Elizabeth Lake. In my 25 years at Crystal I’ve never seen these slide paths run this far.

Avalanche Debris in Damn Fine Forest

Avalanche Debris in Damn Fine Forest

Appliance Chutes went big, with up to 5 foot crowns

Appliance Chutes went big, with up to 5 foot crowns

Blaine Horner tossing a big shot

Blaine Horner tossing a big shot

Pat Fleming standing in front of one of many of these

Pat Fleming standing in front of one of many of these


6 responses »

  1. I heard the debris went to elizabeth lake… wild! Thanks for posting images. We’d love to see some video next time too! Helo and hand shots blowin’ up plz!

  2. A couple of tips I’d like to add, if you are attempting to rescue someone in a tree well: 1. don’t approach the tree well from the up hill side as that can push more snow into the well an onto the trapped skier. Approach from the side of the tree instead.
    2. don’t take your skis off.

  3. Hi Kim- Well, you seem to post a pleasant blog persona, but you did not ever reply to my question sent in an email in early January. I was realy hoping for some perspectives on adventure recreation and links to more research on the benefits and evolutionary needs of/for adrenergic activities. I am not interested in blogging, so please remove me from your post list. It’s just not something I care to read.

    It’s been snowing quite a bit around here. The SnowBowl is looking like it will have one of its top 5 years ever, both for snow and business. Big Mountain continues to lose folks in treewells at an amazing rate. I heard an amazing statistic on some TV presentation about treewells, probably from someone you know. Same chance of death in bounds treeskiing as that of dying outside the rope in a lanche. Something to think about, but it’s a good day….. I am hoping Bridger continues to get buried, as I am headed there 3/10 to ski the new(er) ridge lift, Slushman’s. I’s love to make it down the Canyon there, but unless a buddy comes through with a Yellowstone Club hookup, I can’t afford $100 lift tix, especially as I mainly want to drop the off piste to the SW of Lone Peak, which is pretty much a once a day thing.

    So, sorry we were not able to connect more personally. I guess I’m a dinosaur, but I just don’t get social media and would like to be removed from your post list. Personal mail is always welcome. thanks fredski ps-was also able to find the Ullr medal at Ragweed Forge website, love my Ullr “silver penny” pin. I like the medal too, maybe someday I’ll get one. Don’t wear a necklace much, though

    Sent from my Xperia™ tablet

    • Hi F. Feel free to email me directly. My contact info is under the Contact tab. I did reply to your earlier comment, asking for a few more specifics about your request. I don’t have your contact info, so you’ll need to email me. Also, if you want to unfollow my blog that’s something you need to do on your end. There should be a follow/unfollow button at the top of your screen. Hope that helps. Glad to hear you all are getting snow. Stay safe up there.

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