Snowshoer Reportedly Caught In Clear Creek Avalanche
Frantic Rescue Effort Under Way
6:19 AM, Feb 17, 2003
A frantic rescue effort was under way Monday evening after at least one snowshoer was reportedly trapped in an avalanche on the north side of Interstate 70 near the Eisenhower Tunnel, 7NEWS reported.
The slide was called in shortly around 3:30 p.m., and Clear Creek and Alpine Search and Rescue units were sent to the scene. No one had been found two hours later.
The avalanche was reported in Dry Gulch, the station said. The area is northeast of the Eisenhower Tunnel and near the Loveland Ski Area.
A dispatcher for the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office said one snowshoer was believed to be trapped. A second snowshoer called for help on his cell phone. It appeared that the missing person was not wearing an avalanche locator beacon.
Keystone sent one of its avalanche rescue dogs to help with the search effort, 7NEWS reported. Two rescuers were using the dog and 12-foot-long aluminum search poles to probe for the avalanche victim (pictured, right).
Two additional searchers were dropped off in the area by a Flight For Life helicopter. That brought the number of searchers on the mountain to eight, 7NEWS reported.
The orginal slide was estimated to be 300 feet wide and 200 feet long, officials said. Video from the scene showed the snow packed down.
The second snowshoer who called for help was helping rescuers locate the area where the missing snowshoer was last seen. He told Alpine Rescue that he and his friend were hiking when they were caught in the slide.
Rescuers faced dangerous conditions because of the threat of additional avalanches in the area. A mountain storm was also moving into the area, Bill Barwick, Alpine Rescue said. "We're racing against time," he said at 4:30 p.m.
Keystone sent some "avalanche experts" to help with the rescue and evaluation of current conditions in the rescue area.
Wind gusts in the area were reported to be over 60 mph last night and experts said that may have built up snow cornices. Winds were expected to pick up Monday evening in the area.
The search was called off because of falling darkness and avalanche danger, 7NEWS reported. A snowcat from Loveland Ski Area was expected to bring the searchers back to safety.
Avalanche danger was listed as "moderate" above timberline Monday, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.