The massive snowfall that hit the Mammoth last week brought a rare “extreme” avalanche warning from the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center. On Friday, a skier was injured in a large avalanche that could have ended in a much worse result.
Four skiers were in the Punta Bardini area of the Sherwins known locally as the “Main Bardini Chute” when a skier triggered a large avalanche on a steep slope. After deploying their airbag, the skier then identified an area of trees to hold onto. The other skiers immediately called 911 and descended more than 200 yards down from the crown to initiate a search and rescue.
The skier sustained moderate injuries and was transported back to the trailhead by fellow skiers, eventually being treated at the hospital. It was positive ending to a nearly deadly incident.
The Avalanche itself was reported as a size D2.5-D3. Had a crown depth estimated between 4 and 5 ft in-depth, a width of 300-400 ft wide, and a run length of 1,500 ft. This was a persistent slab avalanche that ran on weak layers within the old snow.
Thankfully, everyone made it home after this scary event. It remains a testament to the dangers of riding backcountry.