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Colorado: Avalanche kills 5 near Loveland Pass

Forecasters warn of potential for similar slides

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The deadly avalanche happened in the Sheep Creek drainage, near the center of the image, above the Loveland Basin ski trails.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Emergency officials say five snowboarders died in a large avalanche near Loveland Pass, in Clear Creek County, Colorado. The avalanche was in the generally north-facing Sheep Creek drainage, which runs down into the Loveland Basin Ski area. Continue reading

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Forest Service review clears Vail in avalanche death

Families not happy with conclusions, say the resort and Forest Service can and should do more to prevent similar accidents

A Google Earth view shows the location of the two gates on Prima Cornice. IMAGE COURTESY GOOGLE EARTH/CAIC.

This Google Earth view shows the size of the avalanche in relation to the terrain of Prima Cornice. IMAGE COURTESY GOOGLE EARTH/CAIC.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said his agency won’t require Vail Resorts to revamp its snow safety procedures in the wake of a large inbounds avalanche on Prima Cornice that killed 13-year-old Taft Conlin last winter. Read the Forest Service review here.

Conlin’s mother said she, as well as the families of some of the other youngsters involved in the accident, aren’t completely satisfied with the agency’s conclusions. Read the full statement from the families here. Continue reading

Colorado: Snowboarder dies in Telluride avalanche

Avalanche deaths in Colorado by county, 1950 - 2011. COURTESY CAIC.

The Bear Creek drainage turns deadly once again

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported the fifth avalanche death of the season, as a snowboarder died in the Bear Creek backcountry near Telluride on a day when the avalanche danger was rated as high, with both natural and triggered slides likely.

According to the preliminary CAIC report, the solo snowboarder, identified by the Telluride Watch as Nate Soules, was traveling alone. He was carried about 800 vertical feet in steep, rocky terrain. Continue reading

Colorado: Two dead in ski area avalanches

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13-year-old dies on closed run at Vail, small avalanche at Winter Park kills another man, and a snowmobiler is killed by yet another slide near Steamboat Springs

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Two skiers died in separate avalanches at Colorado ski areas during the weekend, including a 13-year-old skiing on a closed run at Vail, and another male skier in a small avalanche at Winter Park.

Dangerous avalanche conditions persist in the Colorado mountains today, according to avalanche forecasters.

Additionally, two snowmobilers were involved in another accident at Buffalo Pass, near Steamboat Springs where rescue efforts are still under way, according to Brian Lazar, a forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche information Center. The CAIC confirmed the Jan. 22 death of one of the snowmobile riders in an update on its website.

The avalanche at Winter Park ran only about 60 vertical feet and was about 40 feet wide, according to Lazar. Few details have been released, but Lazar said the Winter Park slide apparently involved a man who was skiing in the trees with his family.

The avalanches came after 12 inches or more of new snow fell atop a weak snowpack. Avalanche forecasters had issued a bulletin early Sunday morning, warning of dangerous conditions throughout the Colorado mountains.

Lazar said staff at the CAIC will be speaking with the snow safety directors at all Colorado ski areas regarding avalanche conditions today. An early season snow drought has resulted in one of the weakest and most avalanche-prone snowpacks in recent memory.

Summit Voice: 1.3 million page views and counting …

Check out the most-viewed stories of the week

Oceans are in serious trouble as they absorb more and more atmospheric CO2.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A climate change story posted Saturday that focused on the biological effects of ocean acidification quickly zoomed to the top of the most-viewed list after being posted at Google News, India, while our coverage of the online blackouts to protest the SOPA legislation was the second-most viewed story of the wek. Several other climate and weather stories rounded out the list.

We also had a chance to look at our annual WordPress stats report and were amazed to see that Summit Voice was viewed a total of 1.3 million times in 2011. As always, click on the headlines below to read, and please use the social media buttons at the end of each post to share via your own favorite social media networks.

Avalanche kills skier in Colorado backcountry

Two skiers involved in a triggered slide on Mt. Trelease in Clear Creek County

The avalanche danger has been rated moderate on most slopes in the backcountry. Click on the image to learn more about the new rating scale in use this winter.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The early season snowpack in Colorado proved deadly for a second time, as a backcountry skier died after being buried several feet deep in an avalanche on Mt. Trelease, north of I-70 in Clear Creek County.

According to the Alpine Rescue Team, the slide was about 400 feet wide and ran about 200 yards down the mountain. The victim, 32-year-old Kyle Shellberg, of Golden, was uncovered by his partner, who attempted CPR on the scene.

In a short bulletin on the slide, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported that the victim may have been carried through a forested area by the slide. CAIC staff will visit the accident site Dec. 6 and post a full report on the center’s accident page.

The accident marks the second deadly avalanche of the season. Wolf Creek ski patrol director Scott Kay died Nov. 22 in a slide while doing avalanche control work in the ski area before opening the terrain for the public.

The second avalanche death of this season occurred Nov. 27 in Utah, when a snowmobiler died in the Uintas. Last winter there were 36 avalanche deaths across the country, including seven in Colorado.

The avalanche danger across much of the northern Colorado mountains has been rated as moderate the past few days, indicating a chance for triggered slides. Specifically, forecasters had been warning of isolated wind slabs on easterly aspects near treeline.

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