Wind Loading

Andrew McLean, ski mountaineer

An avalanche lets loose     Photo: Galen Rowell/Corbis

Wind-loaded pillows are mounds of snow deposited from one side of a ridge to the other, and they’re never quite the same. Sometimes they hold, and sometimes they break loose and avalanche in one big chunk. I’ve been involved in one avalanche fatality from wind loading, and I recently lost another friend, Kip Garre, to a wind-loaded pocket last season.

McLean is the author of Chuting Gallery, a guide to Utah backcountry.

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