2 Skiers Caught, 1 Injured in Colorado Avalanche Yesterday

SnowBrains | | AvalancheAvalanche
Photo of the Berthoud Pass avalanche that injured two skiers yesterday.
Photo of the Berthoud Pass avalanche that injured two skiers yesterday.  image:  CAIC

10-20″ of new snow in Colorado over the weekend lead to snowpack instability and avalanches.

Two backcountry skiers in a group of six were caught in an avalanche on Berthoud Pass, Colorado yesterday.  One skier sustained a knee injury and was unable to walk.  Grand County Search and Rescue got him out.  The other skier in the avalanche sustained no injuries.

AVALANCHE DETAILS:

  • R1, D1 (meaning the avalanche is classified as “relatively harmless to people”)
  • 150 yards wide, 40 yards long, 12-18″ deep
  • Occurred on ENE aspect
  • Occurred at 12,000-feet 
  • Occurred on 40º slope
Grand Country SAR extracting the injured skier from the avalanche zone yesterday.
Grand Country SAR extracting the injured skier from the avalanche zone yesterday.

Grand County SAR has all the details here:

Sunday, May 10th, at 2:14pm, GCSAR was paged for an injured 46 yo male skier near Current Creek on Berthoud Pass. The skier had been caught in an avalanche and sustained a knee injury which prevented him from skiing out. The avalanche occurred in Moonlight Basin. GCSAR responded with 12 members, 4 MMRT members from Grand County EMS, and 1 deputy from the GCSO.

GCSAR met three members of the party at Current Creek, and quickly learned that two skiers were caught, one injured, and the injured subject wasn’t mobile, two people stayed with the subject and one of the RP’s volunteered to go back in. We formed 3 teams; Team 1 Hasty/Med, Team 2 Patient Evac, Team 3 Tech Evac. Team 1 was in the field at 3:55pm, reached the subject at 4:57pm, and all teams and subjects were out at 7:27pm.

GCSAR team member, Richard Jones, filed the following report with CAIC. These were all experienced skiers who made one bad decision in poor conditions. The injured subject and his girlfriend have bagged 40 ski descents of Colorado 14ers.

Grand Country SAR extracting the injured skier from the avalanche zone yesterday.
Grand Country SAR extracting the injured skier from the avalanche zone yesterday.

“Six people were traversing from the top of Berthoud Pass (after ascending Mt Russell) to the Broome Hut. All members of the group had avalanche equipment. One individual in the group was having trouble at altitude and needed to descend, so the group skied the Current Creek Bowl (above Moonlight Bowl in Current Creek drainage). Due to poor visibility and flat light, the group did not notice the cornice at the top of the convexity. After Subject A dropped over the cornice, he released some sluff. When Subject B dropped over the cornice, he triggered the avalanche. The slide was R1D1, approx 150 yards wide and 40 yards long (much wider than long). The crown is estimated at 8 to 12 inches, approx 40 degrees, and appeared to only be a storm slab. Aspect ENE, elevation 12,000′. The debris was still quite high in the path, maybe 30-35 degrees where it came to a rest. The slide caught both subjects, but neither were completely buried. Subject A broke his binding and Subject B suffered a knee injury. All members of the party were able to descend. Subject B was moved to a line of small trees below the path, where members of the group dug a deep snow pit/hole to place the subject in to get him out of the wind. Some members of the group descended to the highway to meet SAR, and others stayed with the Subject (either two or three skied out).”


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4 thoughts on “2 Skiers Caught, 1 Injured in Colorado Avalanche Yesterday

  1. Except that first photo is from a Mt Sopris wetslab avalanche, not from the Berthoud avalanche.

  2. What exactly was the “bad decision”? Should they have forced that individual to continue ascending despite his altitude sickness? Or should they not have followed him down together as a group? Or…?

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