Powerful Avalanche Killed Skier Near Chair Mountain, Marble, CO, on Friday

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avalanche, colorado,
The avalanche starting zone. Credit: CAIC

One man was killed, and two others were injured when a powerful avalanche was triggered near Chair Mountain in the Marble, Colorado, area of Gunnison County.

The avalanche caught three backcountry tourers (two skiers and one splitboarder) in upper Rapid Creek, southwest of the town of Marble, on Friday, March 17, 2023. Two members of the group were injured, and one was completely buried in the avalanche. Rider 1 hiked out of the backcountry to get help. Medical and search and rescue teams evacuated Skier 1 by helicopter. Search and Rescue teams located Skier 2 buried about four feet deep in avalanche debris on Saturday, March 18. Skier 2 was killed in the avalanche. The avalanche released on an east-northeast aspect above treeline and above a cliff band. It broke two to three feet deep, 300 to 500 feet wide, and ran 2400 vertical feet.

Groups involved in the rescue included the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado Search and Rescue Association, Mountain Rescue Aspen, West Elk Rescue Group, Flight for Life, Careflight of the Rockies, and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Approximate location of the fatal avalanche in Rapid Creek. Credit: CAIC

The victim has been identified as 36-year-old Joel Shute of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

The avalanche danger on the day was rated ‘considerable.’

The US has seen 19 avalanche-related fatalities this season, with 12 in CanadaColorado has seen nine of those 19 fatalities, two of those at the weekend.

avalanche forecast
Friday’s avalanche forecast. Credit: CAIC
avalanche, colorado,
The zone from below. Credit: CAIC

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