The Avalanche Review, April 2010
Speed Miller “Drivin’ the bus..”
J. Roberts photo
Senior guide Speed Miller, who has been out on skis almost every winter day these last 28 years, had never seen an avalanche that high on the pitch before. The slope angle at the fracture line was only 29 degrees. Steep enough to slide, obviously, but significantly shallower than the most common failure angle of 38 degrees.
“We knew there were little pockets of tension in the snow,” Miller told me. They had, in fact, bombed this very slope the previous week with a five- pounder without results. Hard slabs, which form from densely-compacted, wind-driven snow, are notoriously difficult to gauge. They may be hidden under layers of softer snow. They may be stable enough to support Hannibal’s elephants. They may be as brittle as a hair trigger.