A skier on Buffalo Mountain in Summit County, CO is lucky to be alive today after being caught in an avalanche and thrown off a 75-foot waterfall.
“It was a waterfall, lot of flowing water, lot of wet snow, very lucky individual. The terrain was extreme. Lot of rocks, steep terrain and al lot of trees,.” – Mark Watson, Summit County Sheriff’s Office
The skier who went over the waterfall miraculously suffered only a broken knee. His injuries could have been much more grave. He had set out with 5 other skiers this past Sunday to ski Buffalo Mountain with temperatures in the upper 60s in full sunshine. This group was unaware of the major instabilities in the current Colorado snowpack.
“We had six very incredibly lucky skiers I guess today. Unfortunately one did get caught in a slide. It was a point release wet slab slide.” – Mark Watson, Summit County Sheriff’s Office
Summit Country Search and Rescue got the call for help from the skiers on Sunday. It took the rescue team 12 hours to locate and rescue the injured skier in very complex, rugged terrain.
Just last week, Colorado saw 26 reported avalanches and natural avalanches closed Independence Pass & Loveland Pass. In the month of May Colorado had 260 reported avalanches.
“These wet avalanches that we are seeing this month in May have a lot of mass behind them. It’s wet snow, so it’s got ‘oomph’ when it hits something.” – Scott Toepfer, Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster.
Avalanche danger in Colorado remains a major concern with recent snow, recent rain, and high spring temperatures.
“With that amount of snow this late in the season it’s definitely tempting, but with the weather change, warm weather, a lot of wet snow, a lot of water running under us, it is definitely very dangerous right now. Especially If the weather patterns continue kind of wet, we could see avalanches running well into June this year. June could be pretty busy.” – Scott Toepfer, Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster