Colorado: Ski patroller dies in avalanche at Snowmass

Colorado far exceeds any other state in the number of reported avalanche fatalities since 1950. Graph courtesy CAIC.

Colorado far exceeds any other state in the number of reported avalanche fatalities since 1950. Graph courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Three deaths reported across the country so far this season

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is reporting the first avalanche death of the 2012-2013 winter occurred Sunday, Dec. 30 at Snowmass.

According to the preliminary report, the 49-year-old female ski patroller was skiing alone in a permanently closed area called the Ship’s Prow Glades, in the Hanging Valley Area. The woman’s name is being withheld pending notification of family.

The CAIC is reporting that the patroller was swept over a cliff by a small avalanche and likely died from injuries sustained in the avalanche and subsequent fall. CAIC avalanche experts will visit the site Monday and post more information as it becomes available. The avalanche was on a northeast-facing slope at about 11,800 feet.

The avalanche danger has been rated as considerable across nearly all the Colorado mountains the past several days, with natural slides possible and triggered slides likely, after new snow fell on an unstable base layer.

Last winter, avalanches claimed seven lives in Colorado, including two deaths within ski area boundaries, at Winter Park and Vail.

So far this year, avalanches have killed three people in the U.S., with all three deaths occurring in or near ski resorts. The first two deaths of the season came on Dec. 24 in California, when an Alpine Meadows ski patroller was killed during avalanche control work. The same day, a snowboarder was killed at Donner Ski Ranch, also in the Lake Tahoe area.

4 Responses

  1. jeezy kreezy. do you think that was a typo: “she was skiing ALONG…”-maybe “ALONE”, which would have been really tragic as well…think back to Wolf Creek several years ago. N/E exposures have been wickedly troublesome-especially AT and BELOW treeline.
    hearts are going out all over the state. always, thanks for posting things in such a timely manner-mk.

    • Thanks for typo-catch, Matt, good eyes as always. Please be careful out there. Three avy deaths this year, two patrollers. Yikes!

    • Hey Matt,
      A good heads-up to pass along to everyone you know. Low snowpack does not equal low risk. Quite the opposite…. be extra careful out there.

  2. Horrible news…

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