Avalanche on Fireplug

Location Name: 
Mount Rose Area
Date and time of avalanche (best estimate if unknown): 
Thu, 01/05/2017 - 10:53
Location Map: 
United States
39° 19' 24.7512" N, 119° 54' 7.4916" W

Red Flags: 
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain

Observation made by: Public
Avalanche Observations
Avalanche Type: 
Trigger type: 
Crown Height: 
4 ft
Weak Layer: 
Old Snow
Near Treeline
Bed Surface: 
Old Snow
Number of people caught: 
Number of partial burials: 
Number of full burials: 
More detailed information about the avalanche: 

           On Jan.5th 2017 my fiance and I were involved in an avalanche on the Fireplug run in the Mt Rose back country. The forecast for the morning was considerable with the highest danger being the wind slabs and new snow that we had received over the two days before. We had a late start to the morning, and by the time we arrived it appeared that several people had skied Hourglass. We decided to take the dogs for a ski tour up to the ridge above fireplug and if the snow pit looked good we would ski it.  On the hike up everything felt very stable , no whomphing and probing the snow with the ski pole showed no obvious weak layers in the new snow. Upon arrival at the top we removed skins and dug a pit  on the slope we were intending to ski. I didn't dig all the way to the ground, but I dug past the Dec. 15 ice crust by about a foot. The pack was surprisingly stable. The top two inches sluffed off immediately, but after 6 hits from the shoulder all I could get to move was a layer in the new snow approximately two feet down. It did not jump out of the hole at me, it just fractured enough to be noticeable.  I could not get anything further down to release at all. Also, snow density was very consistent throughout the pack.  I could press a closed fist into the pack at the top, and four fingers approximately two feet down which continued until i hit the ice layer. With this in mind we decided to ski it. while we were digging our pit  a cloud layer had pushed into the valley obscuring the view to the bottom. My partner began her descent with one of our dogs close behind. She was approximately 3/4 of the way down when she dissappeared from view. I gave her a minute to get to our safe point and began my descent with our pup. At the level that I lost sight of my partner, I noticed a crack in the snowpack, then immediately saw the crown. Once below the cloud layer I could see to the bottom and my partner and our dog were not in sight. I didn't take the time to measure, but the crown was big. I estimated 3-6 feet tall and it ran around the ridge and out of sight to the  west and 100+ yards to the east. I switched over to search and began a beacon search of the debris field. I had no real last seen point in the actual avalanche area. After what seemed like forever I picked up her signal and followed it down slope to her location. She was fully burried  3-4 feet deep. I found her head immediatley and found her to be breathing, but very lethargic borderline unconscious. After a few minutes of being in the open air she came around and complained only of knee pain. She had injured the knee multiple times in the past and it had a history of dislocation, which was the case this time. She reduced the knee herself and was able to bear weight on it when NLTFPD station 13 arrived. My partner adamantly refused being carried out and put her skins back on for the hike out. Some time during digging for her our dog that was missing appeared. I have no idea what happened to him. After everything was over she stated that she was begining her turn to ski to the safe point when she was knocked down by debris. As she fell she looked up slope and saw a large part of the slope fracturing and beginning to slide. She went under, began tumbling and when she came to rest she was unable to move. She stated that she was completely awake and remembered everything until she "fell asleep" and woke up to me digging her out.  Her knee will need some work, but all in all we are very fortunate. Practicing with beacons, shovels and probes make all the difference and the Incline and Truckee meadows fire crews that arrived weer helpful and professional. luckily we didn't need too much assistance, but they were on scene very quickly.

Forecasters note: You can find a crown profile and details about the snowpack here.