Rode the back side of Castle today. Great snow and coverage. All seemed stable until.....
I was the last one down on the run and as I came up to a steep roll on the right side of the face/gully that we were in, I yelled to my partners to see if it went and they said yes. And it went, about a one foot crown. I rode on top of the slide and cut left out of it's path carrying a lot of speed, but kept safe. The second in our group was in the slide path and got carried about 500' and only buried to top of boots.
We were being safe, but not safe enough. Our mistakes were the same that most of us make in the virually avalanche free Sierras. First, I did not quite realize I was coming in on top of the second in our group and this is my fault. Next, the second in our group did not tell me to wait until he was out of the way and this is his fault. Lastly, and most important, I let being completely safe at all times slip my mind for a moment as I felt comfortable because after all this was our third run and nothing had slid so far, right?! Wrong, jackass!!
We did all have beacons(turned on and on us from the car, not just with us in our packs in case we remember to put it on), shovels and probes. I can't tell you,though, the last time I practiced with my beacon and that will change.
I consider myself very safe in all mountain activites that I participate in, but can obviously be safer.
I am out a lot in group situations and skiing safe zone to safe zone is not always practiced. In fact, there are a lot of times when it is talked about at the top, but the powder frenzy takes over and safety is compromised. The bottom line today was that, had the second in our group been in a safe zone, it would have been only me in the slide with the much safer option of riding out on top rather than the being barrelled by surprise.
Let's all just be a little safer and learn from our mistake. Because I can gaurantee that when you go out with me, I will be "that guy" being the safety geek.