The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) reported earlier this week of the incident that occurred just outside of Aspen Highlands in an area know as Maroon Bowl. The report tells the tale of three snowboarders who were caught in an avalanche on Tuesday only to be forced to fend off an aggressive moose.
The incident documents a backcountry miscue as all three riders began their descent at the same time. Just three hundred feet below the ridge line, the slope fractured, sending the snowboarders approximately “several hundred feet down the slope.”
“At the snow-covered Maroon Creek road, Rider 1 went for help at the T Lazy Seven Ranch. While Riders 1 and 2 were waiting, they were charged by a moose.” – CAIC Report
The three were all partially buried with the most serious situation involving one of the rider being pinned on a tree. Luckily, he only sustained a broken rib and strained back during the incident. The two companions helped self rescue the injured rider but on the way home were charged by a moose three separate times on Maroon Creek Road. Assisting in the rescue effort, someone representing T Lazy Seven Ranch helped the riders get back to their car, at which point they drove themselves to Aspen Valley Hospital.
CAIC REPORT DISCUSSION
From a phone conversation with the injured victim. A party of 3 snowboarders had been filming higher in the bowl, where there found 10″ or so of light new snow. They rode down the ridge and entered a slope where the snow felt heavier – maybe a little windloaded. They rode this slope at the same time. About 300 vertical feet below the ridge and just below a big tree that was near a convexity, the slope avalanched. It broke above them and all three were caught and carried several hundred feet down the slope. The debris did not reach the main runout. Rider 1 was partially buried, Rider 2 was buried to his waist, and Rider 3 was pinned against a tree and covered with snow. He as able to move one hand and break an opening to the surface. He may have been able to clear some snow from his face. His companions told him he was turning blue when they got to him. He was later found to have a broken rib and strained back. The party self-evacuated from there, which involved sideslipping, crawling on all fours, and pushing the injured victim while he lay on his board. At the snow-covered Maroon Creek road, Rider 1 went for help at the T Lazy Seven Ranch. While Riders 1 and 2 were waiting, they were charged by a moose. Three times. With help from the ranch, the party made it to their vehicle and drove themselves to Aspen Valley Hospital. The accident site is roughly 0.1 miles and 200 vertical feet higher than a similar incident on 1/31 (Dark Hollow).
A profile trend or common denominator with the characteristics of this slide and others recently in the area are at about 10,500 feet in elevation, northerly convex and several hundred feet below a ridgeline.
“Sear those characteristics into your brain so your spidey senses tingle and you reflexively avoid similar slopes.”– CAIC
Find up-to-date avalanche advisories for the Aspen area here: Colorado Avalanche Information Center