An unidentified skier died in an avalanche this afternoon in the East Vail Chutes area. The fatality is the second death on the season, after a snowboarder died after being buried earlier this January. The incident involved two skiers, both of which were buried. One victim was able to free himself and call 911 to initiate a rescue. Unlike the first fatality involving the snowboarder, where the victim’s partners were able to use their beacons to find and uncover the snowboarder, it seems that today’s victim was not found nor freed by his partner.
The slide happened in the King Tut/Charlie’s Death Chute Area, near where the first fatality occurred earlier this season and on an aspect similar to that avalanche. It’s unclear the level of backcountry expertise or training and knowledge that the skiers who were involved in today’s incident had, although questions regarding their line choice will certainly arise, given the aspect of the slope, and the fact that a fatality had already occurred in the same area.
We will post additional information as it becomes available. Currently the authorities are withholding the name of the deceased until the immediate family is notified.
UPDATE FROM THE COLORADO AVALANCHE INFO CENTER
PLEASE READ THEIR FORCAST AT https://avalanche.state.co.us/Forecasts/Vail+Summit+Co/
THINGS ARE RIPPING, AND RIPPING BIG. PLEASE BE CAREFUL IF YOU ARE SKIING OUTSIDE THE ROPES
There was a fatal avalanche in the East Vail area Saturday morning. Two skiers were caught in an avalanche on a northeast facing slide path, near last week’s fatal avalanche. On skier was caught, partially buried, and able to self rescue. The other skier was fully buried and killed. Other parties assisted in the rescue. Initial reports put the dimensions similar to last week’s avalanche, about 4 feet deep, 1-200 feet wide, and running about 1000 vertical feet. There were three skier triggered avalanches on Loveland Pass Saturday afternoon. All were on southerly aspects above treeline, about 3 feet deep, 100-300 feet wide, running 200-400 vertical feet. There were plenty of avalanches reported earlier in the week. The largest slide reported occurred early Thursday southwest of Copper Mountain, on Jacques Ridge. It was a natural slide on an east aspect, 12,100’, slope angle in the low 30’s, on a slope observers described as an infrequent producer. Shrine bowl avalanched naturally Wednesday or Thursday, wrapping 800 feet wide around east and northeast aspects. Sounds like there was a close call on Ptarmigan Ridge, when a snowboarder triggered a big avalanche and managed to escape while seeing “car sized chunks of snow go past him.” Recent avalanche activity has been on north, east, south, west aspects and everything in between. The east, southeast, and south aspects are particularly sensitive to human triggering.
UPDATE: SHERIFF RELEASES NAME OF VICTIM
The victim of the most recent East Vail avalanche was named as Vail resident Matthew Gustafson, 33. Gustafson was buried for at least four hours before rescuers located him, and was pronounced dead shortly afterward.