According to reports from sources, the two men in their 30s are from Leadville and were enjoying a day of backcountry skiing when one got swept up in an avalanche at approximately 9.30 am. One of the men was buried, but able to partially extract himself, exposing his face and one arm. He otherwise could not move. The other male was witness to the avalanche and immediately initiated help for his buddy.
As reported by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center the incident occurred in the Northeast-facing chute near the summit of Mt Arkansas, located in the Mosquito Range at an elevation of 13,700 feet with a slope angle of 45 degrees, challenging terrain for the rescue crews, who arrived in force at the scene.
According to PIO Benson, the Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment (C-RAD) team from Arapahoe Basin Ski Area extricated the partially buried male and provided medical treatment as needed. The patient’s injuries were severe enough to warrant a Flight for Life extraction at the scene where the male was eventually transported to St. Anthony Hospital in Denver.
A search crew was also deployed to pick up the friend who initially reported the situation to dispatch, and remained on the face of Mt. Arkansas to assist in identifying his companion’s location. The second male was very cold. but otherwise in good shape. Both men were safely off the mountain by approx. 2 pm.
This serves as another reminder to backcountry enthusiasts to be aware of conditions, but perhaps just as important, if you do get into trouble, please call for help immediately. These trained professionals know what they are doing, they can read the snow and the situation, and know how to safely extract victims after a slide has occurred. Please don’t think that you can handle the situation on your own, that decision just puts more people at risk. CALL for help.
While Wednesday’s mission had a “happy,” non-fatal ending, as backcountry snow conditions change and shift with each late winter storm the Colorado Avalanche Information Center is issuing warnings to backcountry enthusiasts to avoid places where you can trigger an avalanche in the Sawatch zone, which includes Lake County.