VAIL, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – The grandson of one of the founders of Vail Mountain has died in an avalanche that also injured three others Tuesday in the backcountry near Vail.
Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis confirmed the identity of the person who died as Anthony (Tony) Seibert, 24, of Boulder and Vail.
“Seibert is the grandson of Pete Seibert, Sr., who is widely credited along with Earl Eaton as the man who discovered the terrain that would become Vail Mountain,” the coroner’s office said in a statement.
The slide happened at around 11:30 a.m. in East Vail Chutes, an area between Vail Mountain and Vail Pass, Eagle County sheriff’s spokeswoman Jessie Mosher said. The three survivors didn’t sustain serious injuries and have been released.
The slide occurred outside of Vail Ski Resort, but was very close. A few local skiers who have been to the area told CBS4 it’s just outside the ski area boundary, but very accessible from a lift in the Mongolian Bowl. It’s not clear if that’s how the group got there. CBS4 was told it’s a favorite spot for backcountry enthusiasts.
The avalanche danger where the latest deadly slide occurred is rated as considerable at or above the tree line for two main reasons. New snow over the weekend was pushed into slabs by wind, and those more cohesive layers of snow are resting on top of the relatively weak early season snowfall, said Spencer Logan of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The combination of a weak base layer under cohesive slabs tends to create slides that break in very wide pieces.
Such dangerous conditions are possible each winter, but last year they didn’t develop until late January because significant snowfall didn’t develop until later in the season, Logan said.
East Vail Chutes has had a series of slides in the last few weeks, including one that trapped a skier. A popular YouTube video shows Edwin LaMair trapped up to his neck before his brother and a friend dug him out.
The death is the fifth in the Rocky Mountain region and the second in Colorado in the last two weeks. On Dec. 31 a backcountry skier was killed in an avalanche on Parkview Mountain in Grand County. Three people were skiing together when an avalanche buried 28-year-old George Dirth. His friends were able to find him quickly, but not in time to save his life.
Statement from Chris Jarnot, SVP and COO of Vail Mountain
“This is a shocking and terrible tragedy. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Tony’s entire family. I want to acknowledge how integral the Seibert family is to the fabric of our community; their contributions to Vail date back to Vail founder Pete Seibert, Tony’s grandfather. This is an incomprehensible loss and we will support the Seibert family and our community through this difficult time. Tony had recently starred in, “Climb to Glory,” a documentary that will forever be a tribute not only to the famed 10th Mountain Division and his family’s legacy but to a wonderful albeit tragically too short life.”
– Chris Jarnot
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