Seventh avalanche death of the season in the state, as experts warn of lingering danger due to deep snowpack
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By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The seventh avalanche death of the season in Colorado occurred May 21 when a snowboarder died on 14,267-foot Torreys Peak, a popular mountaineering destination on the Continental Divide between Summit County and Clear Creek County.
According to a press release from the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office, Joel Levenberg, 38, from Superior, was caught in a slide on the east face of Torreys Peak and swept down about 1,000 feet.
Levenberg was located at about 12,800 feet, complaining of right chest and hip pain.
Responding to an emergency page at 2:44 p.m., the Evergreen-based Alpine Rescue Team sent 26 members to the rescue, using 10 snowmobiles to shuttle rescuers as close as possible to the scene. Both the weather and the location of the victim precluded an aerial rescue by Flight for Life.
Traveling on skis and snowshoes, the first rescuers reached Levenberg at about 5:30 p.m. A paramedic from the Summit County Rescue Group rendered first aid and rescuers started evacuation procedures in severe conditions. During the evacuation, at about 7 pm., Levenberg succumbed to his injurie and was pronounced dead.
According to a preliminary report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the accident involved a party of three backcountry travelers. Click here to read the latest CAIC bulletin on backcountry snow, weather and avalanche conditions. The first of the trio to start down the terrain in the vicinity of Dead Dog Couloir was caught in a slide and swept into some rocks.
The rescue operation was conducted in challenging conditions, with blowing snow creating a near white-out, according to Steve Wilson, a public information officer with the Evergreen-based Alpine Rescue Team.
Avalanche experts have been warning of the potential for dangerous slides the past few weeks as an unusually deep spring snowpack remains poised to avalanche as the weather warms or as cornices give way under their own weight.
A climber was seriously injured in the same area exactly one year ago, to the day.