A skier triggered a large wet slab avalanche on this treed slope outside of Crested Butte. CAIC photo.
On Tuesday, a skier was caught and killed in a wet slab avalanche on Mt. Emmons, just outside of Crested Butte. The preliminary report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) states that: A group of four backcountry skiers ascended Mount Emmons. Descending the northeast side through an area known as the Climax Chutes, the group triggered a shallow long-running wet-loose avalanche. The group descended a ridgeline one-at-a-time, with Skier 1 leading. Skier 1 triggered several more wet-loose avalanches, then descended out of sight down the steepening ridge. The group continued down the ridge after losing contact with Skier 1. One of the wet-loose avalanches carried Skier 1 over a cliff and triggered a deeper, and larger, wet-slab avalanche. The avalanche carried Skier 1 down a very steep, timbered slope. The group found Skier 1 unconscious and injured on the treed slope. They attempted to revive him, but his injuries were too severe. They made contact with local first responders, who assisted the group back to the trailhead. Skier 1’s body was recovered the following day.
This is Colorado’s second avalanche fatality in recent weeks, following an accident in Summit County earlier in the month. CAIC reminds any backcountry users that the extremely hot temperatures across the state have rendered the snowpack unstable and are discouraging you from recreating in the mountains. Colorado is also currently under a sharper statewide Safer-At-Home order with prohibiting any recreation further than 10 miles from home.
If you are recreating, please do so responsibly. This includes following social distancing requirements, not taking actions that risk pulling emergency service workers away from the important work they’re doing, or compromising their ability to continue that work. Learn more about the CAIC’s work during the pandemic here.
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