Forecasters warn of persistent avalanche danger
FRISCO — Skiing the East Vail chutes when the avalanche danger is rated as considerable is a dangerous game of Russian Roulette. After numerous close calls in the area the past few weeks, a backcountry skier died in a snowslide on Monday, January 7. It is the second avalanche death in Colorado this season. The first occurred Dec. 31 on Parkview Mountain, west of Willow Creek Pass.
Outsideonline.com is reporting that the victim was 24-year-old Tony Seibert, the grandson of Vail co-founder Pete Seibert. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center confirmed the East Vail Chutes death, but the CAIC website offered few details on the deadly incident. The center’s avalanche experts will visit the site Jan. 8 to investigate the accident.
According to the CAIC, the avalanche occurred on an easterly aspect near treeline. “Sidecountry riders” exit ski areas to access backcountry terrain outside of operating ski area boundaries. A previous avalanche death occurred in this avalanche path on January 4, 2008.
Avalanche forecasters had been warning of the potential for large and dangerous slides in the Vail-Summit zone for several days, highlighting the threat of persistent slabs of snow created during recent wind and snow events. On the avalanche hazard rating scale, a rating of “considerable” means that triggered releases are likely.
From the CAIC website:
“Persistent slabs can be triggered by light loads and weeks after the last storm. You can trigger them remotely and they often propagate across and beyond terrain features that would otherwise confine wind and storm slabs. Give yourself a wide safety buffer to handle the uncertainty.”
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