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.
Soules was wearing an avalung breathing device and an avalanche floatation device. Both were deployed, but “damaged beyond use in the avalanche,” according to the CAIC.
Two riders from a different group came upon the avalanche and performed a companion rescue, but the victim was already deceased.
The U.S. Forest Service closed the Bear Creek area in the late 1980s after a series of avalanche deaths. A local group of backcountry access advocates pressed to regain access to the slide-prone area until it was finally re-opened.
More details on the accident are online at the Telluride Watch website.
According to a statement released by San Miguel Sheriff’s Office, Soules was an expert skier who formerly worked for Telluride Ski and Golf. He is survived by his parents, a wife and a son.
The four previous Colorado deaths this season occurred in a five-day span between Jan. 18 and Jan. 22. Details on the accidents are online at this CAIC web page.