Earlier in the week, two Colorado skiers triggered a small slab avalanche while hiking a couloir on Mt. Owen in the Ruby Range. The skiers were partially buried, but neither were injured. The slide occurred on a NE aspect at an elevation of 12,600 feet on a 39° slope. The initial slide started on a 6″ storm slab and broke through several graupel layers where it ran on a 4cm melt-freeze crust from storms in early October.
Two backcountry tourers triggered and were caught in an avalanche on 11/3 on Mount Owens in the Ruby Range west of Crested Butte. The two were on foot, climbing a north-facing chute locally know as “Jenga.” They were about halfway up when the avalanche broke above them. They braced through the initial portion of the avalanche. The avalanche increased in size as the whole slope cleared out. The skiers were caught, carried, and partially buried. They were uninjured but lost some equipment.
This serves as a reminder to all backcountry skiers. Just because it is early season, the snow pack is thin, and there are still a number of visible anchors does not mean that we can simply rule out the possibility of avalanches. If heading out, make sure you have your full kit and are ready for anything.