San Juan accident is the sixth avalanche death of the season
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is reporting the second slide fatality of the week and the sixth of the season, with the latest death occurring Feb. 16 in the backcountry near Wolf Creek Pass.
According to the CAIC, three backcountry travelers triggered a large slide in the Gibbs Creek drainage. The avalanche broke three feet deep and 600 feet wide, and ran about 600 vertical feet. One of the skiers was unharmed, the second was injured and required evacuation and the third died in the slide.The avalanche released on a steep (40 degree) west-facing slope near treeline.
Another serious avalanche injury was reported Thursday (Feb. 16) from the backcountry near Vail, where a skier had to be evacuated just a couple of days after another skier suffered broken ribs and a collapsed lung.
The two deaths, along with other recent accidents (seven people caught in the past week) and concerns about the number of people expected to visit the mountains during the upcoming holiday weekend, prompted the CAIC to issue a special advisory statement, warning of the potential for large and dangerous avalanches statewide throughout the weekend.
“Do not let the upcoming holiday weekend or the nice weather in any way fool you into thinking the avalanche conditions are anything but very serious across Colorado,” the forecasters wrote in the advisory.
Specifically, the avalanche hazard is rated as considerable on many aspects and elevations, with the potential for both natural and triggered avalanches, especially near and above treeline.