Colorado: Several skiers caught in A-Basin avalanche

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A Feb. 16 avalanche on the west side of Montezuma Bowl trapped a number of people, but all were recovered and only one serious injury was reported. Trail map courtesy Arapahoe Basin.

Ski patrol-led group involved in Montezuma Basin snow slide; all group members accounted for

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — An avalanche swept down a steep face at Arapahoe Basin Saturday, catching a group of 14 people led by an A-Basin ski patroller.

After an extensive search, all the people in the group were accounted for. One person was evacuated by toboggan due to a knee injury, according to a statement from Arapahoe Basin.

The slide occurred on the west side of Montezuma Bowl in an area that wasn’t yet open to the general public. The area where the slide happened underwent extensive avalanche mitigation and explosive work by Arapahoe Basin Ski Patrol during the past week. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the avalanche was a hard slab up to 6 feet thick on a south-southeast east facing slope above treeline slope. All 15 people were caught and one person was fully buried.

Arapahoe Basin and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center will jointly investigate the slide. CAIC director Ethan Greene said he’ll visit the site Sunday at the request of A-Basin. A subsequent report from the avalanche center will likely include more detailed information on the incident.

The post-control slide at A-Basin highlights the tender nature of the snowpack in parts of the Colorado backcountry, Greene said, adding that there have been numerous slides in the area between Loveland Pass and Berthoud Pass, including the Pass Lake slide path on Loveland Pass, just west of the summit.

Nearby, a resort skier at Keystone ducked a rope and broke a cornice, which triggered another slide, Greene said. Farther north, another backcountry traveler took a 400-foot ride in an avalanche in the vicinity of Jones Pass.

“There was a fair amount of avalanche activity. There was a lot of wind transport going on today … We were all taken off guard the last few days by how reactive the snowpack is,” Greene said.

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