On heels of another snow fatality, officials issue 'Special Avalanche Statement' for holiday weekend

By Kent Van Vleet
Real AspenFebruary 17, 2012

Citing “very serious” avalanche conditions, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) has issued a “Special Avalanche Statement” for the Colorado mountains starting this morning and lasting through the entire President’s Day Weekend.

Be careful out there.

The statement comes on the heels of yet another avalanche death Thursday in Colorado’s “side country” near Wolf Creek ski area. A Keystone ski patroller skiing on his own time was reportedly killed in a slide near the southern resort.

The Wolf Creek victim was a “first-year, exchange Keystone ski patroller from New Zealand,” according to the Summit Daily News. His death is sixth avalanche fatality so far this season in Colorado, which has seen an unusually unstable snowpack because of drought conditions in December and abundant snow in January and February.

“Over the last week seven people have been caught in avalanches,” CAIC’s Scott Toepfer wrote on the group’s website. “Two people have been seriously injured and required hospital care. Very large avalanches have been reported across the state. This trend is expected to continue through the holiday weekend.

“Do not let the upcoming holiday weekend or the nice weather in any way fool you into thinking the avalanche conditions are anything but very serious across Colorado.”

Extreme caution should be used by any snow riders considering traveling in the Colorado backcountry. Carry beacons, shovels and probes, don’t ski or snowboard alone and frequently check the CAIC website for the latest conditions.

Relatively dry and sunny weather is forecast for Saturday and Sunday, but another storm is moving in Sunday night into Monday morning.

The Summit Daily reports a recent slide also injured a snow rider in Mushroom Bowl in Vail’s backcountry. Last month, 13-year-old Taft Conlin of Eagle died in an avalanche in a closed area on the Prima Cornice run on Vail Mountain.

Early last season, Wolf Creek Ski Patrol director Scott Kay died in an inbounds avalanche while doing routine slide control work.

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Aspen n/a n/a closed
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Breckenridge n/a n/a closed
Buttermilk n/a n/a closed
Copper n/a n/a closed
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Howelsen n/a n/a closed
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Monarch n/a n/a closed
Northstar n/a n/a closed
Powderhorn n/a n/a closed
Purgatory n/a n/a closed
Silverton n/a n/a closed
Ski Cooper n/a n/a closed
Ski Granby n/a n/a closed
Snowmass n/a n/a closed
Steamboat n/a n/a closed
Sunlight n/a n/a closed
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Vail n/a n/a closed
WinterPark n/a n/a closed
Wolf Creek n/a n/a closed
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