2 snowmobilers killed in avalanche east of Winter Park

Steven Josephson
Sky-Hi News
Members of a motorized avalanche class were the first to respond to an avalanche that brought debris to Pumphouse Lake, about 6 miles east of Winter Park, on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023.
Mike Duffy/

Two snowmobilers were caught and killed in an avalanche near Pumphouse Lake southwest of Rollins Pass on Saturday, Jan. 7, according to a preliminary report by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The two were buried in a slide that was triggered by the snowmobiles around 2 p.m., according to the report. Another group was in the area and located one of the riders with a transceiver. They performed CPR but were unable to revive the first rider, who was identified as a 58-year-old male from Northern Colorado in a news release from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. The news release specified that the avalanche was reported as being on Corona Pass in the area of Mount Epworth and Deadman Lake. The area is not far from the location of an avalanche that killed a man on Feb. 14, 2021.

The first group on the scene was a motorized avalanche class, according to a Facebook post by Mike Duffy. Duffy’s post stated three riders were in the group that triggered the avalanche, and that debris from the slide made it into Pumphouse Lake. He stated that students from the class had to jump into the water to uncover and remove the man with the transceiver. Duffy wrote that probe lines continued for over an hour and debris was more than 15 feet deep in areas.

The avalanche report states the second rider was not wearing an avalanche transceiver — Grand County Sheriff’s deputies, members of Grand County Search and Rescue, and a Winter Park Ski Patrol dog team were not able to locate him before dark.

Responders withdrew from the area amid concerns about weather and safety, but search and rescue teams are expected to return to the area early on Sunday to continue searching for the second victim, according to the news release.

Avalanche information center staff will visit the accident site on Sunday and publish a final report in the next week, according to the preliminary report. The sheriff’s office, Grand County Search and Rescue and the Grand County Coroner’s Office have been in contact with the next of kin for both individuals, and the identities and cause of death for both men will be released by the coroner “when appropriate” according to the news release.

 “Unfortunately, this is the second fatal avalanche that we have experienced this season in Grand County,” said Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin in the news release. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims. We encourage those recreating in our backcountry to regularly monitor the conditions and follow the advice of our avalanche professionals at Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).” 

A map shows the approximate location of an avalanche, about 6 miles east of Winter Park, that caught, buried and killed two snowmobilers on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023.

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