On Saturday, a solo backcountry skier was killed in an avalanche near Breckenridge, CO. The 31-year-old man was skiing a northeast-facing couloir on Bald Mountain, or Baldy, southeast of Breck. His girlfriend reported him missing when he didn’t return her phone calls.
PRELIMINARY REPORT: A solo skier was caught, buried, and killed in a small but long-running avalanche. The avalanche started at about 13,200 feet on an east-facing slope. It ran approximately 1,300 feet. The avalanche began in dry, wind-drifted snow and entrained wet snow in the track of the avalanche path. Summit County Sheriff’s deputies, Summit Rescue Group, and Flight for Life all responded and performed a search and recovery in the late evening hours of April 29 and early morning hours of April 30.
CAIC staff will visit the site on April 30 and publish more details as they become available. We will issue a full report next week.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.
Flight For Life Colorado responded to Summit Count Rescue Group’s (SCRG) request for an aerial search and spotted an avalanche with no visible tracks in or out of the debris. Due to impending darkness, FFL was unable to assist any further.
Two SCRG members skied into the area of the slide debris to do an avalanche transceiver search and found the subject just after 11:00 pm Saturday via transceiver signal. He was buried almost two feet below the surface of the debris. Two Summit County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) Special Operations Section members conducted an initial accident investigation, and a team of five SCRG and SCSO members evacuated the body to the trailhead via a toboggan in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The R1-D2 slide was triggered at 13,200 feet on a 40º slope.
The avalanche danger was rated as ‘moderate’ on the day. The forecast warned, “You can trigger an avalanche at upper elevations where you find more than eight inches of drifted snow.” Breckenridge had seen 14” of fresh snow the previous seven days.
The fatality is the 24th avalanche-related death in the US this season and the eleventh in Colorado. There have also been fifteen in Canada.
UPDATE: A GoFundMe has been set up by the family of the deceased, Benjamin James Ryan, 31, of Littleton, CO. Ben’s family has requested that donations in Ben’s memory be made to the Summit County Rescue Group and have so far raised $2,400.