Avalanche - Mark's Account
"'If one stopped to think about it, it was depressing how little most men learned in their lifetime.'
Funny that the above quote would be the last entry I made before hiking of the next day without any shovels or beacons to skin up a 2000-foot avalanche slope. I guess I'm one of those men. As the weather cleared again Ace, Frank, Carina and I decided to try and climb the West Face of Chomo Mangyol, Sepu's wife. The NW Face is 45 to 50 degree slope that had been enticing us all trip with the potential for an outstanding ski descent.
We finished breakfast and were ready to go at 7:30. After several hours, the group found themselves on a 25 to 35 degree slope with good powder and positioning to get some photos. Ace was already nervous. I should have been, but I was cocky and my eyes were too big. The skiing was awesome and the summit seemed like it was a few hours away. Things were going well. Then Frank and I felt the sickening 'crunch' of a collapse.
For a moment I thought we were goners, but for some reason the slab held. It was time to tip toe back down. We all moved to the skiers left edge, where the new snow was shallower. But even then I wanted to try and get some photos. So Ace set up on a shallow knoll and Carina skied down past him as a model. As soon as she was over the knoll and the slope slabbed off just below where Ace was standing, about 40 cm deep and 30 meters wide. Carina couldn't ski out and was taken for a short ride, but she ended up totally on top with only her skis buried.
As with all close calls, the experience led me to second guess all the decisions that led to the event and to wonder what the hell I'm doing presuming I can lead people through alpine terrain in good faith. How could I let my judgment lapse in the face of such obvious potential hazard? How could I so easily let down my guard? I really don't have an answer."
- Mark Newcomb, October 10