40 Rescuers Attended to Seriously Injured Snowboarder Caught in Avalanche Near Telluride, CO

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A snowboarder was caught and seriously injured in this avalanche in East Waterfall Canyon near the town of Ophir on March 24, 2020. Credit: CAIC

A snowboarder was lucky to survive when he triggered and was caught in an avalanche while touring in the backcountry near Telluride, CO on Tuesday. The rider, in his 20s, was seriously injured when he hit a tree in the 1,500-foot long slide and it took up to 40 rescue personnel to retrieve him.

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Figure 2: Image of the crown of an avalanche near the town of Ophir that caught and injured a snowboarder on March 24, 2020. Credit: CAIC

A Facebook post by the SanMiguel County Sheriff’s Office said:

“Deputies and more than three dozen Search and Rescue volunteers responded to a report of an avalanche with injured snowboarder in the East Waterfall Canyon area of Ophir. The call came into dispatch a little after 1pm today. There were many skiers and snowboarders in the area. The slide started at approximately 11,500 feet, was believed to be human caused, had 1 1/2-2 1/2 foot crown and slid 1,500 feet. The local man in his 30s was seriously injured when he got caught in the slide and struck a tree. He was evacuated and transported to the Telluride Airport by Mountain Blade Runner helicopter where he was met by Telluride EMS and transported by medical helicopter to St. Mary’s Hospital. Sheriff Bill Masters wants to remind people of the dangers of the backcountry “especially in light of COVID-19 when our local resources are stretched and incidents like this stretch them even more. People need to use their friggin heads.”

avalanche
Almost 40 rescuers aided in the extraction of an injured snowboarder.

A preliminary report by the CAIC explained:

PRELIMINARY: A snowboarder was caught carried and seriously injured in an avalanche in East Waterfall Canyon near the town of Ophir on March 24. Search and rescue personnel responded to the scene and the victim was evacuated by helicopter. The avalanche occurred on a northwest-facing slope around 11,500 feet. The avalanche was about 150 feet wide. It broke in the old snow layers about two feet deep. CAIC forecasters will complete a more detailed investigation in the coming days.

avalanche
A snowboarder was caught and seriously injured in this avalanche in East Waterfall Canyon near the town of Ophir on March 24, 2020. Credit: CAIC

Avalanche Details

  • Location: The Banker, East Waterfall Canyon, near Ophir Colorado
  • State: Colorado
  • Date: 2020/03/24
  • Time: 1:30 PM
  • Summary Description: 1 snowboarder caught, partially buried, and injured
  • Primary Activity: Backcountry Tourer
  • Primary Travel Mode: Snowboard

Number

  • Caught: 1
  • Fully Buried: 0
  • Injured: 1
  • Killed: 0

Avalanche

  • Type: SS
  • Trigger: AR – Snowboarder
  • Trigger (subcode): u – An unintentional release
  • Size – Relative to Path: R2
  • Size – Destructive Force: D2
  • Sliding Surface: O – Within Old Snow

Site

  • Slope Aspect: NW
  • Site Elevation: 11500 ft
  • Slope Angle: 37°
  • Slope Characteristic: Planar Slope, Sparse Trees
Ophir, colorado, telluride
Ophir, CO 13-miles south of Telluride.
A letter from the American Avalanche Association asking people to think twice before heading out.

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