A car was caught in an avalanche on Loveland Pass, CO, yesterday as crews responded to a number of avalanches across the state. Search and rescue teams were called to the scene, but thankfully there was nobody buried.
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of an avalanche late Wednesday morning, which slid across Highway 6 approximately a half-mile from the top of Loveland Pass. A cornice had broken and slid onto the highway, partially covering a Nissan Pathfinder. The occupants called 911 for assistance. Upon the Deputy’s arrival, the Pathfinder was already gone, as a Colorado Department of Transportation grader had cleared the snow around the vehicle allowing the driver to safely drive away without apparent injury. Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons stated, “Drivers should always be aware of cornices, rocks, and
avalanche paths leading down to roads and highways, especially now that it is springtime.’
– Summit County Sheriff’s Office Press Release
The avalanche near the top of the pass near Arapahoe Basin Ski Area was a small road-bank that released naturally, the CAIC reported. Nobody in the car was injured.
Northerly winds are moving snow across the state today. With only a few inches of snow to blow around the freshly-formed slabs are small, but sensitive, especially where they build on slick crusts. Despite routine avalanche mitigation in the big and dangerous paths nearby, a small road-bank above Loveland Pass released naturally. A vehicle was struck, but no one was injured. CDOT freed the vehicle and is currently conducting avalanche mitigation with CAIC staff before opening the road.
The 11,990-foot pass was closed for the second time in a week while crews cleared the road. CDOT officials conducted avalanche mitigation during the highway’s closure from between 11:30 am and 4:45 pm.
Search and rescue teams attended another slide on Berthoud Pass, near Winter Park Resort yesterday, where initial reports were that two people had been buried. Thankfully, there was not.
Grand County SAR was notified of a potential avalanche burial in Current Creek, near Berthoud Pass, just after 11 am on Wednesday, March 23. The reporting party was skiing in the area and noticed two people approaching the “Postage Stamp” area. Later he noticed a fresh avalanche described as “a very large wind slab” in the same area. He called 911 to report the possible burials. The “Postage Stamp” is about one mile and 1000 vertical feet from the trailhead.
About 20 GCSAR team members responded along with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office – Colorado and Grand County EMS.
Also responding was the Flight For Life Colorado Avalanche Deployment Team which inserted two avalanche technicians and an avalanche search dog from Winter Park Ski Patrol Dog Team near the avalanche. Simultaneously, a ground team proceeded to the site from the trailhead.
Once the site was evaluated, it was determined by avalanche transceiver search, avalanche dog and ski tracks that the people who were in the vicinity had left and were not caught in the avalanche.
All personnel were out of the field by 2:30 pm.
If you happen to trigger an avalanche in the backcountry, please take the time call it in to the local Sheriff so that a false alarm that could be dangerous for SAR volunteers is not raised.
There have been two avalanche-related fatalities in Colorado in the last week. A 49-year-old man was killed Saturday, March 19, near Steamboat Springs, and a 29-year-old was buried Thursday, March 17, near Ophir.
There have been fifteen avalanche-related fatalities in the US this winter.