The red lines indicate the two crowns of the avalanches. The right avalanche was the first slide, which triggered the slide on the left. Colorado Avalanche Information Center Photo.
An avalanche on Colorado's Red Mountain Pass caught six backcountry skiers on Saturday as they participated in an avalanche safety course with the Silverton Avalanche School. One of the participants of the Recreational Level 2 AIARE Avalanche Course, Peter Marshall, did not survive the incident. According to The Durango Herald, the 40-year-old was buried under at least eight feet of snow, and while he was successfully retrieved by his group they were unable to revive him.
The tragedy marks the first avalanche fatality in Colorado this season, and the first for the Silverton Avalanche School since opening its doors in 1962. The school, joined by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, is currently leading a full investigation into the incident. Jim Donovan, the Silverton Avalanche School director, has declined to further comment until the investigation is completed so that the reporting remains accurate.
There is a preliminary report available, which outlines that Marshall was caught in the debris of two avalanches in Upper Senator Beck Basin. The first slide was triggered by his group, which carried all six skiers down the slope. Then a subsequent avalanche was triggered sympathetically, and its debris piled on top of the initial debris field where Marshall was buried. The rest of the group aided by Emergency personnel was able to make its way to U.S. Highway 550.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center hopes to have the full report released by the end of the week.