Apr 22 2013

Loveland Pass Avalanche claims 5

Google view of the terrain that trapped five.

Really disturbing news for backcountry skiers this weekend. We lost five in an avalanche on Saturday around Loveland Pass. The ironic thing is all the victims were participating in an event to raise awareness about riding safely in the backcountry. A total of six were caught, one skier and four snowboarders were killed.

Denver Post story (recommended) by Jason Blevins

More details from Jason Blevins at the Denver Post

CAIC early report

Associated Press report

Further analysis at the Denver Post.

Denver Post: Victims undetected for 4 hours.

WildSnow perspective on the Sheep Creek avalanche scene.

CAIC final report.

Topo view of the accident location.

Dale Atkins of the CAIC said, “this is a common tour with easy access from Hwy. 6″ heading over Loveland Pass. The surmised route was typical, following along a creek bed up towards Mt. Sniktau. Unfortunately it appears they were caught early in their ascent in an area where the creek bed acted as a terrain trap and the slope is presumed to have been triggered from below, effectively pulling all the snow above down on to them.

According to Atkins, “over 4-feet of new snow has fallen in the past week-and-a-half and conditions are more typical of mid-February than mid-April.”

The group caught was attending a benefit event the night before that raised over $1,700 for the CAIC. The purpose of the event was to promote safe travel for backcountry riders. All those caught were considered experienced backcountry skiers and riders.

Prayers and condolences to family and friends.