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Skier safe after getting caught in 1 of multiple avalanches this weekend

Grizzly Peak avalanche (CAIC).jpg
Posted at 11:43 AM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 13:43:06-05

DENVER — Multiple avalanches were reported over the weekend, with one backcountry skier rescued after being taken hundreds of feet and surviving a 50-foot drop.

Summit County Rescue Group confirmed they responded to a call for a rescue after an avalanche on the west side of Loveland Pass on Grizzly Peak Saturday.

A mother and her adult son on Friday rappelled to ski a chute locally known as Butt Crack. They had a successful ski, but a piece of their repel equipment did not release, so they returned to the area Saturday to retrieve it, according to SCRG.

As the man traversed toward the top of the chute, he cut across a steep slope below the ridge and triggered an avalanche. The avalanche forced him 200-300 feet down the mountain and a 50-foot drop off a cliff, SCRG said.

His mother, who was in a safe zone to the side of the avalanche and was not caught, found her son buried waist deep about 10 minutes later.

SCRG, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, a Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment team, Arapahoe Basin Ski Patrol and Flight For Life all responded to the incident, but the man only had minor injuries, and the two were able to ski out on their own.

SCRG noted the two were both experienced skiers who had the correct gear with them, including an avalanche gear bag that the man was not able to deploy.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center also confirmed a backcountry traveler-triggered avalanche that occurred Saturday in the Sawatch Range south of Buckeye Peak.

The man who submitted the observation of the avalanche said he triggered it remotely. He described the snow as “very stiff” and said he felt and heard the whumpf as the weak layers of snow failed and the avalanche broke a distance away.

No one was caught in the avalanche.

On Sunday, a small avalanche was triggered by a snowmobile on a northeast aspect above the treeline in the North San Juan Zone, according to CAIC. The snowmobiler was climbing and turning left and away when he triggered the avalanche from a "definitely wind loaded" spot near the bottom of the wind-drifted snow.

Everyone was safe.

Much of the mountains are under either low or moderate avalanche conditions currently. Officials remind anyone visiting the mountains to read the CAIC forecast and follow safe practices. SCRG said recent high winds in the central mountains have created slabs and increased the avalanche danger.