SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Forecasters say the mountains are seeing some of the most dangerous avalanche conditions in recent memory for the President’s Day weekend.

The avalanche warning comes one day after the sixth death of the season in Colorado. On Thursday a backcountry skier died in a snow slide on Wolf Creek Pass. The victim was a ski patroller at Keystone.

Right now the danger across the state is listed as considerable and the state avalanche information center is panicked.

Avalanches can carry an entire mountain load of snow. They can take with them anything in their path.

Bruce Edgerly was caught in an avalanche 18 years ago. He hasn’t forgotten a detail. Edgerly was on Berthoud Pass on wind loaded slopes. Those same slopes slide last year as well.

“I only took probably three turns. I didn’t see it happen I just started to lose control and went head over heels,” Edgerly said.

The slide carried him 800 feet. He was completely buried except for one hand.

“Even though I had an air pocket I still couldn’t breathe because my whole throat was packed with snow. My sinuses were packed and I could barely breathe around that,” Edgerly said.

Amateur video has captured incredible images of avalanche survivals this winter. A snowmobiler in Washington was uncovered just seconds after being trapped. In Summit County a snowboarder triggered a slide but was saved by an inflatable backpack.

One video shows the power of an avalanche up close. An Alaskan snowmobiler was engulfed by a curtain of white — and then darkness. Edgerly says it doesn’t feel like snow.

“If you get into some surf that a little bit over your head, and violent, and you end up taking a bad swim,” he said. “You just have this kind of circular, out-of-control sensation, and It’s hard to breathe and it’s hard to see. It’s really hard to do anything.”

Edgerly says if he wasn’t found by his skiing partner he may not have lived.

LINK: CAIC: Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Skiing In Colorado

– Read recent Skiing stories.


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