Aspen employee uninjured after out-of-bounds avalanche burial |

Aspen employee uninjured after out-of-bounds avalanche burial

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

The red line in the center shows the skier’s path. The skier was caught in a slide and dug out at the location of the star. The longer line shows the path of the avalanche in the McFarlane’s area off Richmond Ridge. (Colorado Avalanche Information Center)

ASPEN — An Aspen Skiing Co. employee with Aspen Mountain Powder Tours was buried in an avalanche Saturday and then rescued by a colleague, according to a report filed with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The two employees were “scouting” terrain prior to beginning powder tours for the winter on Sunday, Aspen Vice President of Communications Jeff Hanle said Monday. The skiers were traversing one at a time out of the McFarlane’s area south of the Silver Queen gondola when the first skier triggered an avalanche, according to the report filed by longtime Powder Tours employee Murray Cunningham.

“He was carried 20 yards or so and buried at the base of a tree,” Cunningham reported. “Skier two performed a beacon search on the slide track, located the burial site, probed and dug out skier one, conscious and uninjured.”

The names of the two workers weren’t included in the report.

Hanle said the buried skier suffered “bumps and bruises” and was back at work Sunday, when Powder Tours opened as planned. The scouting helped the tour operation staff determine what terrain could be safely used, he said.

Additional avalanches were reported during the weekend, including a skier-triggered slide near the top of the Loge chairlift at Aspen Highlands, which was closed at the time.

“Good reminder that closed avalanche terrain at the ski areas should be treated as backcountry,” Avalanche Information Center Deputy Director Brian Lazar wrote.

Another incident occurred on Aspen Mountain on Saturday, when ski patrol discovered a snowboard track heading into an area where a small slide was triggered on closed terrain, Hanle said.

“No one witnessed it, so they had to stop and do a full search,” Hanle said.

Patrollers probed, used beacons and avalanche rescue dogs as a precaution. They found no one caught in the slide.

If a person is involved in or is aware of a slide, they should report it to patrol, Hanle said.


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