Backcountry Tourer Killed in Colorado Avalanche Yesterday: 5th Avalanche Fatality in CO This Season

AvyBrains | | AvalancheAvalanche
A view of the top of the couloir. Photo by Greg Hansen.

Yesterday, Wednesday, April 15, 2020, Colorado had its fifth avalanche fatality of the 2019/2020 season in a backcountry area near the town of Silverthorne.

The avalanche danger for the area was rated as “moderate” on Wednesday. Attached below is the preliminary report from the CAIC:

PRELIMINARY REPORT: A group of three backcountry tourers were involved in an avalanche. The group ascended to the east summit of Red Peak (point 12,885′), west of the town of Silverthorne. They began their descent of a couloir locally known as Oh What Big Eyes You Have, on the north side of point 12,885′. During the descent, they triggered a small avalanche. The avalanche swept one of the riders through the couloir and to the valley below. He sustained fatal injuries.

Summit County Rescue Group and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office responded. CAIC staff will visit the site and we’ll publish more information as it becomes available.

The CAIC will update the report as more information becomes available and they will issue a final report after an investigation.
“Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased and everyone affected by this tragic accident.” — CAIC

This avalanche fatality was the 22nd of the 2019/20 season in the USA. The U.S. averages 28 avalanche fatalities per season.

The Summit County Rescue Group (SCRG) made the following statement regarding the incident:

At about 1:40 p.m. on 15 April the Summit County Rescue Group (SCRG) was notified of a skier triggered avalanche on Red Mountain, just north of Silverthorne, Colorado, resulting in one fatality. Information about the avalanche was initially obtained via activation of a personal emergency beacon. Red Mountain is located in the Gore Range.

Three skiers had ascended Red Mountain from the southeast side and spent a short time on the summit before initiating their descent. The trio was at the upper portion of their planned path when a shallow avalanche broke at the location of the uphill skier, who was not caught in the ensuing slide. The other two skiers were knocked down. One slid only a short distance and managed to roll back over onto his skis and right himself. The third member was carried approximately 1800 feet and sustained fatal injuries.

The skiers were experienced, well versed in backcountry travel and properly equipped with avalanche beacons, shovels and probe poles. One of the individuals had skied this route on previous occasions.

SCRG, taking into consideration snow and avalanche conditions (danger rating of considerable), fading light, the distance to the victim (about 8 to 9 miles round trip over rough terrain), and the impending heavy snow storm, made the difficult decision not to send in recovery teams that evening. When weather conditions permit, SCRG will send in teams for the recovery.

Information about the victim is not being released pending notification of next of kin. Any additional information will be released by the Summit County Coroner’s Office.

The image shows a topographic map with the couloir circled. Photo by the CAIC.
image: CAIC

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