Another Deadly Year for Colorado Skiing

Kiley Chrisman | | AvalancheAvalancheIndustry NewsIndustry News
2 skiers killed in late season colorado avalanche
A skier was killed in a mid-season Colorado avalanche near Marble, CO. Image: Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Colorado has amassed another deadly winter, with 17 deaths inside ski resorts and 11 deaths caused by avalanches. Colorado is historically the deadliest state for skiing, mainly because of its popularity and expert terrain. The all-time snowpack has caused avalanche deaths to nearly reach a record high during the 2022-2023 season, which is tied for the second most all-time since the count began in 1951. 

Colorado has recorded 11 of the 24 avalanche deaths that have occurred in the U.S. this year. Of the eleven avalanche deaths, five were backcountry skiers, two were Sidecountry riders, three were snowmobilers, and one was a residential avalanche. 

The 2022-2023 ski season is nearing its end, but that does not mean fatal avalanches are no longer possible. In the 2021-2022 season, Colorado’s final avalanche death occurred on May 29 on Mount Meeker. Although avalanche awareness and safety have increased over the last decade, the yearly death toll stays steady with the increasing popularity of backcountry skiing.

Corona pass avalanche
The Corona Pass avalanche killed two snowmobilers near Winter Park. Image: Grand County Sheriff’s Office

Since the 2006-2007 season, at least 137 skiers have died at Colorado resorts. Of the 137 deaths, 136 have been accounted for, except for No. 130, a statistic with no name or record. Colorado ski resorts are not required to report deaths that have occurred on ski runs, and the lack of this transparency between resorts and deaths has been a growing concern.

Over the course of the 2022-23 ski season, Colorado has seen 17 non-avalanche-related deaths inside the ski resorts. Since resort deaths are not required to be reported, The Colorado Sun conducted a statewide survey that showed much higher numbers than average. In the 17 reported deaths that occurred during the 2022-2023 season, two died from suffocation in tree wells, five died from collisions, and four died from medical reasons.

transporting a patient can save lives
Ski patrol prepares to transport a patient. Image: Hugh Johnson

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