BAKERVILLE, Colo. (CBS4/AP) – A man who was snowshoeing up a central Colorado mountain died after getting buried by an avalanche.
The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office says a man and a woman met in Bakerville and set out to go snowshoeing Grays and Torreys Peaks on Wednesday. They were joined by another man who they didn’t know but they decided to form a group.
Authorities say about 12,000 feet up the trail the woman crossed a potential avalanche zone south of Kelso Mountain, and when she turned around she saw one of the men get caught in an avalanche.
“They knew there was avalanche danger in the area, so they were watching. I think that’s why the lady went first and they turned around to see her friend come through and that’s when the slide came down,” Maj. Rick Albers with the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office said.
It’s likely the victim triggered the slide, but the group was walking on an established path that had been traveled before.
The buried victim had an avalanche beacon.
“The female party activated her beacon and she and the other male party were able to locate the buried party in 15 to 20 minutes,” The sheriff’s office said in a statement.
But the man was already dead.
“Time is vital in an avalanche and the most time consuming part of an avalanche is digging someone out of the snow,” said Dr. Ethan Greene, Colorado Avalanche Information Center Director.
Alpine Rescue, the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office, and Flight for Life were all on scene for the rescue.
The avalanche danger in the area and in much of Colorado is ranked as moderate, but the risk rises at higher elevations.
“What it means when we have moderate danger is that on a sunny day like this you’re unlikely to see avalanches running on their own. There’s still a fairly good chance you can trigger an avalanche on your own,” Greene said.
Forecasters from CAIC will be back at the slide site on Thursday to analyze its size and the snow conditions that caused it. They’re also urging people to have adequate equipment and knowledge when heading out into the backcountry this holiday weekend.
Gray & Torrey peaks are two popular 14,000-plus-foot mountains close to Denver.
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