CAIC Report on April 20 Avalanche

Apr 25th @ 6:21 am in News by Scott Staley

CO Avalance Info Center

Full report can be found here:  https://avalanche.state.co.us/acc/acc_report.php?accfm=inv&acc_id=505&view=public

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) has published the results of their investigation into the avalanche accident that killed five people in a backcountry touring group near Loveland Pass, Colorado, on April 20, 2013.

The CAIC staff would like to extend its deepest condolences to the friends and families of the victims and everyone that has been affected by this tragedy. The people involved in this accident were active in backcountry recreation and avalanche safety. The following information is provided to honor their memory and in the spirit of the lives they lived.  People participating in snow related recreation should remember these important points:

1. Know the current avalanche conditions before your trip – In Colorado go to www.colorado.gov/avalanche; for national information go to www.avalanche.org. Avalanche conditions in Colorado are more dangerous right now than the typical April. The weather over the next month could exacerbate our current avalanche problems.

2. Carry avalanche rescue gear – This should include an avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe pole.  It can also include Recco tabs, airbags, and Avalung. Know how to use this equipment.  Remember that having equipment does not guarantee your safety, but not getting caught in an avalanche does.

3. Get avalanche education – Know how to use the information provided by avalanche centers.  There are online tutorials and lots of great classes provide by people working with the American Avalanche Association (www.avalanche.org) and American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (www.avtraining.org).

4. Even experienced backcountry travelers can, and sometimes do, die in avalanches.

5. Even though this is a very tragic accident, it was avoidable. There are numerous resources available to people to learn about avalanche safety and current avalanche conditions. You can enjoy winter recreation and avoid dying in an avalanche.

The results of this investigation indicate that the group was planning to descend a different slope and was moving towards that area when they triggered the avalanche. The group crossed under a slope, and was well below the steepest portion (start zone) when the avalanche released. The avalanche washed the group
into a gully burying all six of the group members. One person was buried with the lower portion of one arm out of the snow. He was able to clear his airway, but remained stuck in the snow for approximately four hours until rescuers arrived. The other five members of the group died in the debris.

About the CAIC
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is a program in the Colorado Department of Natural Resources tasked with reducing the impact of avalanches on the people in and the economy of the great state of Colorado. To learn more please visit https://avalanche.state.co.us/index.php