Three Skiers Caught In Avalanche Rescue Themselves

Skiers Were Properly Equipped With Beacons, Shovels

Three people have quite a story to tell after they survived an avalanche in Colorado's high country over the weekend.

The slide occurred Sunday on Jones Pass, near Empire, Colo. The three were backcountry skiing when they got buried in the avalanche. Sterling Kamisky and another skier were able to dig themselves out and used their avalanche beacons to find and rescue the third skier.

The third person, identified as John Olsen, had pelvic injuries and was airlifted to Saint Anthony Hospital but is expected to make a full recovery.

"I have no memory of really thinking," said Kamisky. "I just did what I had pounded into my head over these years."

He was able to kick a foot free so the other skier could find him. Their quick rescue work may have saved Olsen's life.

"They had beacons. They had shovels, " said Lt. Rick Albers of the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office. "They had probe poles and they had trained in the past -- that's what saved that gentleman's life."

The avalanche might have been as wide as 900 feet, and slid about 800 vertical feet, said Spencer Logan of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The avalanche danger for the area on Sunday was rated considerable, or midway on a five-level scale, because of warming temperatures and high winds. That may have what caused Sunday's slide since it appears that the skiers did not cause the avalanche, 7NEWS reported.

Logan advised people heading to the backcountry this week to pay attention to the terrain around them.

"Carry rescue gear and know how to use it. That's what saved this person's life," Logan said.

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