2 Backcountry Skiers Riding in Burn Area Killed by Avalanche in Southwestern Colorado

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Two backcountry skiers were killed by this avalanche near Vallecito Reservoir in southwestern Colorado on Saturday, February 25th. | Photo: CAIC

The mountains have taken two more lives this winter. 

Two experienced backcountry tourers died in an avalanche Saturday in a burn area in southwestern Colorado near Vallecito Reservoir. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported that just before midnight Saturday, a Flight For Life helicopter crew saw an avalanche southeast of the reservoir with tracks entering into it but none coming out.

The avalanche occurred in this burn area and you can see the crown that killed the two skiers through the trees. | Photo: CAIC

The two skiers who were killed were avid backcountry users and well known in the local backcountry community, according Center Director Ethan Greene, who spoke with the Colorado Sun. Greene reported to the Sun that the skiers were supposed to be back Saturday afternoon but when they were overdue, the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office began conducting a search. Later, the Flight for Life Helicopter spotted the avalanche with their tracks going into it and crews descended onto the scene.

Their bodies were found buried in the avalanche. Greene reported that the skiers were descending in trees in a burn zone when the avalanche occurred. They were caught, buried about four feet deep, and killed. At this time, a total of six people have been killed by avalanches in the Colorado backcountry this season—almost the same number of people killed during the entire 2021-22 season. Below are attached details provided by the CAIC regarding the incident.

Avalanche Details

  • Location: Southeast of Vallecito Reservoir
  • State: Colorado
  • Date: 2023/02/25
  • Time: 11:00 AM (Estimated)
  • Summary Description: 2 skiers caught, buried, and killed
  • Primary Activity: Backcountry Tourer
  • Primary Travel Mode: Ski

Accident Summary

PRELIMINARY: On February 25, 2023, two backcountry tourers were reported overdue from a trip near Vallecito Reservoir. La Plata County Sheriff’s Office began a search. Just before midnight, a Flight For Life helicopter saw an avalanche southeast of the reservoir with tracks entering the avalanche and none exiting. La Plata County Search and Rescue found both skiers buried about four feet deep in avalanche debris.

Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the people involved in this tragic accident. CAIC staff will visit the accident site on Sunday, February 26, and we will publish a final report in the next week.


The fatal avalanche crown. | Photo: CAIC

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