Avalanche kills five snowboarders in Colorado today


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Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Apr 21, 2013 - 11:25am PT
Here's a photo of the slide area:
View looking west. Loveland Pass is just visible at the top of the pho...
View looking west. Loveland Pass is just visible at the top of the photo. The hairpin turn is the one just at the top of the lift at Loveland Basin Ski Area.
Credit: maldaly
Be safe out there
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Apr 21, 2013 - 11:37am PT

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Apr 21, 2013 - 11:43am PT

It's a wonder that the bodies were recovered, looking at
the debris field. The conditions to dig out the victims
looked horrendous.
steve shea

Apr 21, 2013 - 01:20pm PT
That thing looks massive, huge crown. Right down to the brush. Seems like passes give that altitude advatange. So many people ski and ride off of passes that I think a false sense of security abounds. Now awareness, clinics, beacons, probes, shovels and ABS packs have dumbed it down instead of making people more cautious.
I know that area well. When Attending Denver University the Pass was the only way west, pre Eisenhower Tunnel. We skied Little Professor's and other routes many times over my time at DU. But only in spring snow. We were so cautious that it never occured to us to ski POW. Ignorance was truly bliss in this case and not knowing snow dynamics kept most to ridge tops and firm late spring conditions.
That aspect in the photo is also subject to wicked wind loading. The prevailing is sw and even a breeze gets venturied through the pass to transport massive amounts of snow to to lee side. That slope!
I was skiing Loveland one day years ago and while booting up at the summit parking lot, heard on the car radio of the avalanche death of Buddy Werner. US ski icon from Steaboat Springs. That made us more aware. But avalanches were a big part of the winter landscape in CO. We were used to seeing them just never ventured out to that terrain. Too afraid.
Condolences to the famlies and friends of these riders!
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Apr 21, 2013 - 01:39pm PT
looked horrendous.



Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Apr 21, 2013 - 02:31pm PT
False sense of security is the key phrase...There are greater numbers of boarders and skiers marching into the back country with brand new clothing and gear and i sometimes wonder if their appearance reflects their avalanche awareness..yesterday i noticed snowmobile tracks leading off into the local wilderness back country bowls....Are the snow machines enabling the less experienced easier access to these dangerous slopes...? I'm sure the pressure of getting first tracks or only having the day off plays into luring the boarder-skier into these dicey situations...Tragic...

Trad climber
Apr 21, 2013 - 02:46pm PT
Having been nearly obsessed with backcountry skiing for 15+ years of my life, I have pretty much given up the desire to find powdery backcountry descents. Snow science is such an inexact science even for those who are extremely knowledgable. Backcountry terrain is so variable from aspect to aspect and even hour to hour. Having been fully buried in AK plus numerous close calls in what professionals would call LOW avi risk opened my eyes big time. I have see an avi triggered while skiing with a guy that holds a degree in snow science. crazy stuff. Spring corn is about all I am willing to risk anymore. Im certainly not afraid of death but have pretty much decided that is not the way I want to go. Condolences to all parties involved.

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Apr 21, 2013 - 02:54pm PT
For sure...! I know some veteran , avalanche-control experts that have gotten rolled and battered while getting freshies....Is there such thing as an avalanche expert...?

Apr 21, 2013 - 02:59pm PT
Really awful. So much experience yet it sounds like mistakes were made. Sincere condolences to family and friends.

Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Apr 21, 2013 - 02:59pm PT
...I have pretty much given up the desire to find powdery backcountry descents...

Me too, for the most part. I'll still search for some good tree skiing, but the back bowls will have to wait until it's corn season.

I resolved myself to buying lift tickets to A-Basin for the winter, and waiting for the roads to open over Independence and Pikes Peak every spring before heading into the backcountry.
John M

Apr 21, 2013 - 03:53pm PT
From Mimi's link

Colorado authorities have identified the victims of a backcountry avalanche on Saturday as five experienced snowboarders and skiers who were participating in a community event promoting backcountry safety and gear.

Some of these people were very experienced. I wonder if the same thing that happened on the backside of Stevens Pass Ski area happened here. No one spoke up because everyone was thinking that it must be safe because so and so wouldn't go here unless it was.

Here is the story of the Stevens Pass avalanche. If you haven't read it.. It is worth it.


My condolences to those who lost someone. This has to be tough.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Apr 21, 2013 - 05:21pm PT
Wow- that thing slid off the ground layer. Scary.


I talk to a few old timers who say that they wouldn't ski back-country until spring conditions.

My take is that the powder is too hard to resist once you hike to the top.

Social climber
Boulder Canyon Colorado
Apr 21, 2013 - 05:27pm PT
Ironically, this was during a sponsored snowboard event to benefit the Colorado Avalanche Information Center that day at Loveland Valley. I don't know if the snowboarders involved in the avalanche were participants, or sales reps, etc.:

Another 10-20" of snow forecast up there for Mon-Tues.

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Apr 21, 2013 - 06:04pm PT
Those pictures are gnarly. That is a huge fracture and slide. So sad

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Apr 21, 2013 - 07:58pm PT
Very sad. Condolences to family and friends. Heart break.


Ice climber
Apr 21, 2013 - 08:36pm PT
Hate reading about this kind of thing. Condolences to all who knew these guys........
tom Carter

Social climber
Apr 22, 2013 - 12:51am PT

The CAIC has been cautioning skiers and riders throughout the winter with statements like this:

Deep persistent slabs still lurk under the new snow layers. These avalanches are difficult to trigger, but very large and dangerous.


Trad climber
Western America
Apr 22, 2013 - 01:24am PT
photo not found
Missing photo ID#299868

Very very sad.

The victims probably did snow pit tests before but did they dig that deep?

Big Mike

Trad climber
Apr 22, 2013 - 01:36am PT
Pwl. Persistant Weak Layer. These things are harsh. They go quiet for awhile, but never dissipate. You think they are quiet and then they hit. Snow lust is a horrible thing. You convince yourself it's going to be ok, by hitting smaller stuff first, then it isn't.

Boulder climber
Apr 22, 2013 - 01:49am PT
... wouldn't ski back-country until spring conditions.
I'm not a skier or anything, but I have seen fairly big slides well after any snow has fallen in the Spring/ early Summer.
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