In an avalanche on Saturday near Vallecito Reservoir, two backcountry skiers perished. According to a press statement from La Plata County, the men went skiing at 7 a.m.
On Saturday, south of the reservoir with plans to return at noon. But, someone alerted authorities that the men were missing at 9:18 p.m. after they failed to show up.
La Plata County Sheriff’s Office deputies found the victims’ truck on the road at the lake’s southern end. Colorado Search and Rescue located the men’s likely skiing location using telephone information. Ground teams and a Flight for Life helicopter also started a search.
Ski tracks were found by the helicopter crew entering an avalanche debris field, but no traces were seen emerging from the debris area. The search teams also deployed a RECCO Detector and avalanche beacon technologies.
At 3:06 a.m. on Sunday, ground teams recovered a single ski, and by 3:36 a.m., both men were discovered under several feet of snow. At the time of the tragedy, the men, including transceivers, were dressed in full avalanche gear.
The males were reportedly skiing on a 38-degree slope on a burn scar southeast of the lake, According to Colorado Search and Rescue Association spokeswoman Anna DeBattiste.
“Because it was a burn scar, the lack of trees may have been a contributing factor,” DeBattiste said.
The men’s names were withheld from the public on Sunday pending notification of the man’s family. DeBattiste stated the person knew of the men’s plan but would to comment on whether the person who reported the skiers missing was related to them.
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“This is one of three avalanche accidents that happened in the state Saturday, and so we’re very concerned about the trends we’re seeing,” DeBattiste said.
The avalanche threat in the area was described as “moderate” by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center on Sunday, but DeBattiste noted that it is “significant” above the tree line.
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For almost 4 years, Jason Martin has been a freelance writer for newspapers, journals, blogs, books, and online material. He covers the most recent news as well as many other topics.