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CAIC Releases Report on Deadly Telluride Avalanche

Editor's Note: TGR understands the inherent risks with winter backcountry activity and urges anyone going out to have the proper knowledge, equipment, a partner, and a plan. For more information on how to stay safe in the backcountry, check out TGR’s annual Safety Week series.

Emergency personnel probe avalanche debris while searching for Mr. Garcia-Atance. CAIC photo.

On February 19th, 2019, Salvadore Garcia-Atance was touring on the Bear Creek Trail near Telluride when he was buried by an avalanche triggered from above. The CAIC has recently release an accident report stating that the slide which caught him was triggered by snowboarders above. 

According to the Telluride Daily Planet, these snowboarders had illegally ducked a rope line at Telluride to enter into the a permanently closed-off area of Temptation. They were riding were riding a zone known as Temptation-East Face when they triggered a slide which ran down the Temptation avalanche path into the Bear Creek drainage.

Related: Remembering Bryce Newcomb

The avalanche's crown, with a snowboarders' tracks exiting to the left. CAIC photo.

None of the snowboarders were buried, but Mr. Garcia-Atance was directly in the slide's path.  When rescue personnel located him the following morning, he was buried under 6 feet of debris. 

The snowboarders are not named in the report, and there is no mention of repercussions. The CAIC is reminding skiers and riders to be mindful of other backcountry users who might be impacted by the decisions of those skiing or riding above them.

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