Man Killed in Avalanche Yesterday After Leaving Vail Resort, CO Through Backcountry Access Gate

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avalanche, vail, colorado
Looking across the starting zone of the fatal avalanche. Image courtesy Vail Ski Patrol

A man died in an avalanche Thursday afternoon in the East Vail Chutes, a popular backcountry area just outside the Vail Mountain, CO resort boundary. The skier left the resort through a backcountry exit gate and was in Marvin’s area when the slide occurred.

The avalanche, estimated to be 700-feet wide and running 1,000-vertical-feet, occurred on an east-facing slope below the treeline.

PRELIMINARY: A skier was caught and killed in an avalanche in the backcountry south of Vail on February 4. The skier exited the Vail Ski Area through a backcountry access gate. The skier was in an area known as Marvin’s when the avalanche occurred. Companions and other riders in the area found the skier. They performed resuscitation efforts but were unsuccessful. The avalanche occurred on an east-facing slope below treeline. Rescuers estimated the avalanche as 700 feet wide, and it ran 1000 vertical feet.

Our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of the people involved. We will publish more information as it becomes available.

Other riders in the area found the skier and performed resuscitation efforts. The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Vail Mountain Rescue, and Vail Ski Patrol responded and recovered the skier. CPR efforts were unsuccessful.

13″ of fresh snow had fallen overnight on the area. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s forecast rated the avalanche hazard at and above treeline as “high,” with “very dangerous avalanche conditions.” The forecasts warned that wind-drifted, above-treeline slopes facing north were “the most likely places to trigger a large and deadly avalanche” and recommended, “avoid traveling in or around avalanche terrain today.”

avalanche, colorado
Today’s Colorado forecast. Credit: CAIC

Yesterday’s fatality is just days after a huge avalanche near Silverton, CO claimed the lives of three Eagle County residents and is the eighth in the state this winter. Last season there were six fatalities all season.

The body of a backcountry skier was recovered Wednesday after an avalanche on Mount Washington, NH.

Three hikers’ bodies were recovered Wednesday after being caught in an avalanche in the Chugach Range, Alaska, on Tuesday.

In Utah, a skier died Saturday after being buried by an avalanche in the backcountry just outside Park City Mountain Resort.

This week’s tragedies have more than doubled this winter’s USA avalanche deaths to sixteen. There have also been three avalanche deaths in Canada.

A CalTopo image of the accident site. The red polygon shows the approximate location of the avalanche.
avalanche, vail, colorado
Looking across the slope that avalanched, known as Marvin’s, from Red (elevation 11816). The skier was buried near the toe of the avalanche, in the area circled in black. Image courtesy Vail Ski Patrol
avalanche, vail, colorado
From the crown looking down the avalanche path after mitigation efforts to protect rescuers.

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