Backcountry Skier Caught In and Partially Buried by Avalanche on Berthoud Pass, CO

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Credit: CAIC

A skier was caught and partially buried in an avalanche on Berthoud Pass, near Winter Park Resort, CO, on Wednesday, according to reports from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

The three skiers were skiing from Berthoud Pass, into Current Creek, and then into Second Creek. On their second lap, one of the skiers triggered an avalanche in a chute that carried him down the slide path. He came to a stop partially buried.

Two partners and I skied from Berthoud Pass into Current Creek and then into Second Creek. Our first lap into Second Creek we skied the Corner Pocket trees and then put our skin track back up to the ridge just east of the Corner Pocket trees. We then descended into somewhat steep, somewhat open, and somewhat tree-lined chutes skiing the lower steep slope in pitches one at a time. I entered the chute and managed a bit of sluff on my tails by skiing out of the fall line. As I skied out of the fall line, I noticed a small surface slab propagate at my ski tips. Then the hard slab propagated above me taking me off my stance, stripping my skis from my feet, and carrying me down the slide path in the tumult of the snow. The debris slowed down, came to a stop, and I was partially buried but uninjured.

CAIC Report

Credit: CAIC

In a Facebook post, the CAIC warned about current conditions:

A rider was caught and partially buried in this avalanche on Berthoud Pass on March 17, 2021. This is direct evidence that you can still trigger avalanches on the weak snow at the ground. This is particularly true in the Front Range zone where the bulk of the snow fell during the last storm. You will not see signs of instability before these avalanches break. There is no way to tell where the weakest spots are on a slope. The only way to completely avoid this problem is to avoid steep slopes that face west through northeast to southeast. Check the most up to date information in the zone(s) you plan to travel.

Before this incident, 17 people had been caught, 13 had been buried and 11 had been killed in avalanches in Colorado during the 2020-2021 season.

Current CAIC forecast. Credit: CAIC
Map showing location of Berthoud Pass, CO.

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