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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Stevens Pass Avalanche, in Six Parts

Posted by on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 6:00 AM

A preview of "Snow Fall," by John Branch, is now up at The New York Times. It's a serialized look at the avalanche that killed three skiers at Stevens Pass in February, it's accompanied by some impressive online graphics, and it begins here:

The snow burst through the trees with no warning but a last-second whoosh of sound, a two-story wall of white and Chris Rudolph’s piercing cry: “Avalanche! Elyse!”

The very thing the 16 skiers and snowboarders had sought — fresh, soft snow — instantly became the enemy. Somewhere above, a pristine meadow cracked in the shape of a lightning bolt, slicing a slab nearly 200 feet across and 3 feet deep. Gravity did the rest.

Snow shattered and spilled down the slope. Within seconds, the avalanche was the size of more than a thousand cars barreling down the mountain and weighed millions of pounds. Moving about 7o miles per hour, it crashed through the sturdy old-growth trees, snapping their limbs and shredding bark from their trunks.

The avalanche, in Washington’s Cascades in February, slid past some trees and rocks, like ocean swells around a ship’s prow. Others it captured and added to its violent load.

Somewhere inside, it also carried people. How many, no one knew.

Read the whole thing.


Comments (7) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Kick ass story and great format.
Posted by Bean on December 20, 2012 at 7:15 AM · Report this
rob! 2
Thoughtful design and incorporation of enriching graphic elements like that, along with interesting subject matter, will be what finally convinces me to get electronic-format subscriptions to newspapers or magazines. Most everybody else insists on serving up a migraine-inducing jumble that has to be throttled back with browser settings and AdBlock.
Posted by rob! on December 20, 2012 at 8:22 AM · Report this
RIP chris, Jim. I miss you guys.
Posted by Random Poster on December 20, 2012 at 8:25 AM · Report this
Wow, so did I just see the future of Web publishing? I would love e-books to look like this.
Posted by longball on December 20, 2012 at 9:29 AM · Report this
Posted by stating the obvious on December 20, 2012 at 10:07 AM · Report this
Avalanche tragedies don't need any more goddamn glamorization. It's that kind of mentality in the snow sports industry that took one of my best friends away from me for ever.

Fuck all you gapers and your uninformed glee over one of the most horrific events ever to happen to the snow community.
Posted by pipedream on December 20, 2012 at 11:41 PM · Report this
rob! 7
Sorry about your friend, @6, but people I have known lost their lives trying to find off-piste pow hounds.

If anything gets glamorized, it's the heedless antics that put backcountry rescue crews in danger, not the avalanches and searches they trigger.
Posted by rob! on December 21, 2012 at 5:17 AM · Report this

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