2 Dead in Large Avalanche Near Silverton, CO Yesterday | 3-Deaths in 2-Days

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Photo of the north side of the Battleship, taken from a helicopter on December 20. The skiers were near the looker’s right (west) side of the image. image: CAIC

2 backcountry skiers were killed in a large avalanche on Battleship, a run near Silverton, CO yesterday, Saturday.

A backcountry skier was killed in an avalanche near Crested Butte, CO on Friday.

A snowmobiler was killed in an avalanche in Wyoming on Friday.

There have been 4 avalanche deaths in the USA since Friday.

There have been 4 avalanche deaths in the USA this season.

In Colorado in the last week:

  • 380 avalanches reported
  • 108 triggered by people

In Colorado since Friday:

  • 132 avalanches
  • 49 triggered by people
  • 9 people have been caught in avalanches
  • 3 people were killed in avalanches

 

 

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Figure 1: Topographic map of Mineral Creek and Ophir Pass. The red circle marks the north side of the Battleship where the avalanche occurred. image: CAIC

Below written by The Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Three People Killed in Two Days Linked to Unusually Dangerous Avalanche Conditions

Since Friday three Coloradans lost their lives in avalanche accidents and 132 avalanches were reported. One hundred and eight avalanches were triggered by people in the last week. More people die in avalanches in Colorado than any other state, and this year conditions are especially dangerous. This is not the landscape-changing event we saw in March of 2019, but it is the weakest snowpack we’ve seen since 2012. People need to recognize we have unusual conditions and their usual practices may not keep them out of harm’s way. As we gain more snow in the coming weeks, avalanches could become even more dangerous. We urge everyone to check the avalanche forecast before you plan your day in the mountains (www.colorado.gov/avalanche), particularly as we enter the holiday season.

Here are the numbers-

In the last week:

  • 380 avalanches reported
  • 108 triggered by people

Since Friday:

  • 132 avalanches
  • 49 triggered by people
  • 9 people have been caught in avalanches
  • 3 people were killed in avalanches

Why is this important?

There have been a lot of avalanches and a lot of people are getting caught in them. The snowpack is below average across the state. Avalanches are mostly small but very easy to trigger. This week, we have seen avalanches grow in size and they are going to continue to get bigger as the mountains get more snow.

We have avalanches every year, why is this different?

Colorado is the home of weak snow and avalanches are not uncommon. This year is worse. We haven’t seen conditions this bad since 2012. Although the avalanche conditions are not unprecedented, they are worse than many people are used to. People are using avalanche-safety strategies that have worked in recent years, but current conditions require additional caution.

What can you do?

The most important thing you can do is check the avalanche forecast before you go into the backcountry. Go to www.colorado.gov/avalanche or get the Friends of CAIC’s mobile app. Look at the current avalanche conditions and plan accordingly. Steep slopes where the snow supports your weight are dangerous. Avalanches are easy to trigger. They can break wider than you expect. You can trigger avalanches from low-angle terrain, below, or to the side of a steep slope. If you’re unsure about the conditions, stay on slopes less than 30 degrees steep that are not connected to steeper terrain.

Search & Rescue working retrieving the bodies in Silverton, CO today. image: Office of Emergency Management, San Juan County Colorado

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3 thoughts on “2 Dead in Large Avalanche Near Silverton, CO Yesterday | 3-Deaths in 2-Days

  1. The year we have one of the weakest snow bases in Colorado also happens to be the year where we anticipate seeing the highest number of new, uneducated people entering the backcountry… I’m afraid this is only the beginning. Looking at the Caltopo – there’s no question that this is avalanche terrain.

    1. Sadly this was my first impression as well. I just can’t comprehend why those 2 decided to go up there. So much lower terrain, trees, lower angle stuff available… so early in the season…

  2. This is part false. The text says first avalanche death of the season in USA. That is FALSE. My wonderful amazing husband died January 17 of an INBOUNDS avalanche at Alpine Meadows in Truckee.

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