Solo Snow Biker Killed in Avalanche Off Cottonwood Pass, CO Yesterday

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Image of the fatal avalanche yesterday. photo: caic
Image of the fatal avalanche yesterday. photo: caic

A snow bike rider was caught and killed in an avalanche near Cottonwood Pass, CO yesterday.  He was buried 6-feet deep beneath the avalanche debris.

It appears that this snow bike rider was riding alone in avalanche terrain.  Please do not travel in avalanche terrain without all avalanche gear, education, experience, and at least one experienced, badass partner.  It hasn’t yet been reported wether he had avalanche gear or not.

A passing group of snowmobilers noticed that avalanche and reported it to local authorities.  Chaffee Country Search & Rescue responded, saw the tip of a snow bike in avalanche debris, dug up the bike, and found a man along with it.  They performed CPR on the man without results.

This was the 18th avalanche death in the USA this year including 12 in January alone.

This year’s total may rise in USA when two currently missing people are determined to have died form avalanches.  A doctor at Hatcher Pass AK, a ski instructor at Donner Pass, CA.

Last winter, the USA saw only 11 avalanche deaths.

There have been 6 avalanche deaths in Canada this year including 5 dying together in an avalanche last week in Canada.

Avalanche details. image: caic
Avalanche details. image: caic

Colorado Avalanche Information Center Statement:

“On Friday February 5th at approximately 11:00 AM a rider on a motorized snow bike was caught in an avalanche south of Cottonwood Pass. The avalanche released on an east-facing, above-treeline slope. The rider was buried with part of one boot sticking out of the snow. Another group riding in the area alerted members of Chaffee County Search and Rescue, who were training in the area. Chaffee County Sheriff’s office and Colorado Parks and Wildlife also responded to the site. The rider was buried under about six feet of snow. He was extricated, but did not survive the burial.” – Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Map showing location of avalanche fatality yesterday.
Map showing location of avalanche fatality yesterday.

Chaffe County, CO Statement:


Salida, Colorado


February 5, 2016

On today’s date at approximately 12:18 pm the Chaffee County Communications Center received a call of an avalanche in the Cottonwood Pass area near the summit. Cottonwood Pass is in northwest Chaffee County near Buena Vista, Colorado.

According to witnesses in the area who were snowmobiling they heard what sounded like an avalanche in the Lost Lake area of Cottonwood pass. They proceeded into the area and observed a very large avalanche that had slid recently. They also observed suspicious tracks going into the slide area. They performed a cursory search of the slide and observed nothing suspicious so they proceeded out of the area.

As these same snowmobilers were traveling near the summit of Cottonwood Pass they encountered three members of the Chaffee County Search and Rescue North Unit who were in the area on avalanche training. They passed on the information in regards to the avalanche they observed, including the information about the suspicious tracks traveling into the slide. Search and Rescue North members immediately responded to the avalanche area and began a search.

A short time later the SAR members found a snow bike ski tip protruding out of the snow. They began digging the machine out of snow and located one male victim buried in the avalanche. They extricated him and began CPR immediately. CPR was performed on the victim for some time but was eventually stopped. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene by a search and rescue member who is a medical doctor.

Chaffee County Coroner Randy Amettis responded to the area and took possession of the victim.

Identification of the victim is pending notification to next of kin by the Chaffee County Coroner.



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