Skier killed in avalanche north of Silverthorne
SILVERTHORNE — A backcountry skier was killed in an avalanche Wednesday afternoon on Red Mountain, according to Summit County Rescue Group.
At about 1:40 p.m., the rescue group volunteers were notified of a skier-triggered avalanche on Red Mountain, in the Gore Range north of Silverthorne. Information about the slide was initially obtained through the activation of a personal emergency beacon, according to group representatives.
Three skiers ascended the mountain from the southeast side and spent a short time on the summit before making their way back down. The skiers were on the upper portion of their planned path when a shallow avalanche broke near the most uphill skier.
“The one who was standing right where the crack occurred didn’t actually take a tumble,” said Charles Pitman, spokesperson for the Summit County Rescue Group. “But he realized something happened when the two people below him disappeared. The one who was right below him managed to roll over and right himself onto his skis. But by the time he looked for the third individual, he couldn’t see him.”
The third skier was carried about 1,800 feet and sustained fatal injuries, according to the rescue group. Neither of the other skiers suffered notable injuries. All three skiers were male, according to Pitman.
The skiers were all experienced and well-versed in backcountry recreation. They also were carrying proper backcountry gear — such as avalanche beacons, shovels and probe poles — and one of the men had skied the route on previous occasions.
The rescue team decided not to mount a recovery mission Wednesday night and will wait for more favorable weather and safer conditions before sending a team in, according to Pitman.
“By the time the two other skiers made it back to the trailhead, we had a team that was available to go in,” Pitman said. “But we looked at what that team would be dealing with. We knew the avalanche conditions were bad, and we had a potentially good-sized storm coming in — adding in fading light and the fact that it’s going to be somewhere between an 8- or 9-mile round trip over rugged terrain to load the person up and take them out.
“It’s going to be an extensive operation. We didn’t feel comfortable putting our search and rescue personnel out there with heightened risk factors. Our plan is to wait until the weather clears and reassess.”
Pitman said the group has precise GPS coordinates of the individual, but will have to wait until there’s a good window of decent weather before making their way onto the mountain. Pitman said the odds of a recovery on Thursday were slim given the conditions, and that Friday or Saturday was more likely.
The man’s identity will be released by the Summit County Coroner’s Office once his family has been notified.
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