Colorado Avalanche Partially Buries Skier

Marks first of season in state

The slide occurred on a 38-degree slope on Bald Mountain's east side, near the town of Breckenridge. "This was an usually large avalanche for this time of year," said CAIC forecaster Scott Toepfer, who visited the debris field the next day. (Courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center)
Photo: Courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Colorado’s first serious avalanche accident of the season took place in Summit County on Saturday, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). Summit County Rescue Group, assisted by a helicopter from national emergency rescue group Flight for Life, evacuated a skier partially buried on the east side of Bald Mountain, near the town of Breckenridge, according to Summit Daily News.

The man was skiing alone on a northeast-facing slope, at an angle of about 38 degrees, that had received 20 inches of snow from the week’s storm. After the slide, he found a bar of cellphone service and made multiple calls to 911. At 2 p.m. local time, he reached a dispatcher to report that he was injured, according to CAIC forecaster Scott Toepfer, who has 30 years of avalanche forecasting experience. 

The man was rescued at 4:30 p.m. MST. His injuries were not life threatening, but he was at risk for hypothermia.

Two additional avalanches were reported in Summit County on Sunday. One was located near Arapahoe Basin, but not within the ski area’s boundaries, and the other was near the top of Loveland Pass. No burials were reported.

“Both my boss, who was with me, and I kept saying, ‘I can’t believe how big this avalanche is on November 21,’” said Toepfer, who visited the slide area the next day. “This was an unusually large avalanche for this time of year. And as much as I love avalanches, that makes me very anxious.”

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