Colorado Skiers Die in Avalanches

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reports two avalanche tragedies this past weekend both involving skiers.

On Friday, March 17, an avalanche caught three backcountry tourers (two skiers and one splitboarder) in upper Rapid Creek, southwest of the town of Marble.

Two members of the group were injured and one was completely buried in the avalanche. Rider 1 hiked out of the backcountry to get help. Medical and search and rescue teams evacuated Skier 2 by helicopter. Search and Rescue teams located Skier 3 buried about four feet deep in avalanche debris on Saturday, March 18. Skier 3 was killed in the avalanche.

The avalanche released on an east-northeast aspect above treeline. It broke two to three feet deep, 300 to 500 feet wide, and ran 2400 vertical feet.

On Sunday, March 17, a large backcountry avalanche just beyond the Aspen Highlands ski area boundary killed one person.

The slide happened in the Maroon Bowl, which is on the backside of the popular Highland Bowl, a hike-to area on Aspen Highlands. Three backcountry skiers were caught in the avalanche, two of whom were able to extricate themselves.

“Maroon Bowl is a steep northwest-facing slope in the near treeline elevation band. The avalanche broke about 200 feet wide and ran about 2,000 vertical feet,” the CAIC said in an initial report on the slide.

Nine people have died in avalanches this winter in Colorado, including three men in two slides on Feb. 25 in southern Colorado. Last winter, seven people were killed in Colorado avalanches.

Our condolences and best wishes to the families, friends and all those involved in these tragedies.

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