An experienced outdoorsman died Saturday after he was buried up to his neck in an avalanche near Echo Lake, Clear Creek County sheriff's officials said.Steven Bloom, 53, and his girlfriend were snowshoeing and cross-country skiing up Colorado Highway 5 above Echo Lake when he fell about 50 yards off the road, authorities said. The woman yelled out to Bloom just before the slide at 2:30 p.m.Sheriff's officials had not determined what triggered the avalanche.The woman's dog found Bloom buried up to his neck. She helped dig him out along with three other cross-country skiers in the area who came to help."I think what was going through our minds was how can we help with this," said cross-country skier Brian Martinek. "Coming down from Echo Lake to Idaho Springs, I was constantly dialing 911. There was no reception, no service until I got close to Idaho Springs."A medical helicopter was unable to land on the steep slope where the man was but helped the first rescuer reach the scene about 45 minutes to an hour after a call for help, sheriff's Lt. Rick Albers said.Bloom's condition began to deteriorate after rescuers arrived, and he was pronounced dead at the scene at about 7 p.m., Albers said. He said Bloom had a cut on his head and shoulder injuries but did not know what may have led to the man's death.Witnesses said Bloom was conscious most of the time while medics tried to save his life, adding that he had climbed 31 14,000-foot mountains in the past."He just wasn't able to hang on long enough until he could be extricated," Martinek said.Witnesses said he probably had internal injuries. They said he was talking and joking as they tried to give him emotional support.Highway 5 above Echo Lake goes to the summit of Mount Evans and is closed to vehicle traffic in the winter but is popular with snow enthusiasts.
- To learn more about the avalanche danger in Colorado go to the avalanche information center.