PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. — Two skiers became lost after they ventured beyond ski bounds near the Aspen Mountain ski area. Rescuers spent five hours working to get them off the mountain.
On Tuesday around 6 p.m., the Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol received a call from a skier who said she had been skiing with her friend when they became lost near the ski area. They said they were possibly in the area below Walsh’s ski run.
The ski patrol started to search for the skiers. When they couldn’t find them, they determined the women had likely gone out-of-bounds, so the patrol requested help from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, the sheriff's office said.
About an hour after the women called for help, a sheriff’s deputy called their cell phone. The skiers were about 1,300 feet below the ski area boundary and 900 feet above the valley floor. They were instructed to move downhill.
By 8:55 p.m., they had only moved about 500 feet further downhill and one of the women had become exhausted. They said the terrain was almost impassable because of debris and steepness.
Four members of Mountain Rescue Aspen had been standing by to assist near the North Star Nature Preserve and, at 9:10 p.m., they started to search for the skiers, the sheriff's office said.
The rescue team reached the women about 30 minutes later. They were about 200 feet above the valley floor. Rescuers learned that they were not injured. They found the least treacherous route and continued downhill with the women to the nature preserve.
They worked through snow, rock and debris, using headlamps as guidance as they avoided slide paths and downed trees. The slope of their route was between 30 and 38 degrees, the sheriff’s office said.
The group reached the preserve around 11:15 p.m.
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and Mountain Rescue Aspen is reminding skiers and snowboarders that venturing beyond ski area boundaries in unfamiliar terrain can lead to injury or death. Avalanche conditions in this area were categorized as “moderate” at the time, according the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.