(CBS4) — A pair of backcountry skiers was partially buried New Year’s Eve by an avalanche on a mountain near Lizard Head Pass.
According to an incident report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the two hold onto nearby trees and maintained eye contact as the snowslide bore down on them.
When the snow settled, one of the skiers was buried up to his waist and the other up to his neck. Both, however, were able to dig themselves out.
Both were uninjured.
The two were part of a foursome of splitboarders out for a “mellow tour” from Lizard Head Pass to up a ridge of Black Face Mountain, approximately a mile away directly to the northwest.
The group, fully equipped with avalanche gear, decided to descend a gentle eastern slope of the mountain. The first two riders alternated downhill, making several stops in safe zones along the way.
Unfortunately, however, the pair was standing in the middle of the slide zone when the third skier entered the slope, according to the CAIC’s report.
The third skier yelled a warning and was able to stop. The lower skiers also yelled and clutched onto trees immediately in front of them. The two maintained eye contact in hopes of sighting a burial location should either have been pulled from the trees and buried.
After digging out, the four regrouped and skied over the avalanche debris to the return trail.
Per the CAIC report, the slide measured 75 feet in width, broke all the way to the ground in an average depth of three feet at the crown, and ran the entirety of the 500-foot slope.
The CAIC has declared Avalanche Danger as Considerable (Level 3 of 5) in eight of the state’s 10 avalanche zones.