Preliminary Report: Backcountry Skier Killed in Avalanche near Crested Butte, CO

Dominic Gawel | | AvalancheAvalanche
Looking towards the avalanche that killed a backcountry skier. Photo: CAIC

Crested Butte, CO – On Friday, December 18th, 2020, a solo skier was caught and killed in a persistent slab avalanche on the northwest end of the Anthracite Range. A group of two skiers noticed he had not returned to his snowmobile and saw a recent avalanche where the victim intended to ski. The two skiers extracted the skier using a beacon search. Crested Butte Search and Rescue was called for the recovery and extraction. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of the victim.

The avalanche path, crown, and flanks. Photo: CAIC

The preliminary report from the CAIC is below: 

Avalanche Details:

  • Location: Anthracite Range, west of Crested Butte
  • State: Colorado
  • Date: 2020/12/18
  • Time: Unknown
  • Summary Description: 1 skier caught, buried, and killed
  • Primary Activity: Backcountry Tourer
  • Primary Travel Mode: Ski


  • Caught: 0
  • Fully Buried: 1
  • Injured: 0
  • Killed: 1


  • Type: —
  • Trigger: Unknown
  • Trigger (subcode): —
  • Size – Relative to Path: —
  • Size – Destructive Force: —
  • Sliding Surface: O – Within Old Snow


  • Slope Aspect: NE
  • Site Elevation: 10500 ft
  • Slope Angle: —
  • Slope Characteristic: Ridgeline, Sparse Trees

Accident Summary:

A solo skier (Skier 1) was buried and killed in an avalanche on the northeast end of the Anthracite Range, in an area locally referred to as Friendly Finish. On the ridge prior to descending, Skier 1 spoke with another group of two skiers (Skiers 2 and 3) about their respective descent plans.

Skiers 2 and 3 completed their descent and returned to their parked snowmobile, only to find Skier 1’s snowmobile still parked without any sign of Skier 1. Skier 2 and 3 snowmobiled to a place where they could get a view of Skier 1’s planned descent route and they saw a fresh avalanche. They skied up to the scene of the avalanche, and located Skier 1 with a transceiver search. They extricated Skier 1, but he tragically did not survive the event. Local volunteers and Crested Butte Search and Rescue facilitated the recovery and extrication.

Our sincere condolences to all the friends and family of the victim.

A close look at the crown. Photo: CAIC
The current avalanche forecast map for the Crested Butte Area. Photo: CBAC

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