CLEAR CREEK, Colo. (CBS4)– One man was killed after being caught in an avalanche on the way to Grays and Torreys peaks on Wednesday. The avalanche danger is expected to get worse as the weekend grows closer.
The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office says a man and a woman met in Bakerville and set out to go snowshoeing on the peaks on Wednesday. They were joined by another man whom they didn’t know, but they decided to form a group.
The victim is Christopher Thomas, 39, a Colorado Springs resident, the sheriff’s office said Thursday.
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.
“They had recognized the slope as a potential hazard and were treating it as such. And when the avalanche released, fortunately it only caught one person in a party of three,” said Ethan Greene, Director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
It’s likely Thomas triggered the slide, but the group was walking on an established path that had been traveled before.
Avalanche beacons helped the two find the victim. They struggled to dig him out from under four to five feet of snow but it wasn’t soon enough.
“The other gentleman tried a couple of breaths but he was upside down, still buried, there were no signs of life at that time and that’s when they made the phone call,” said Albers.
The avalanche danger in the area and in much of Colorado is ranked as moderate, but the risk rises at higher elevations.