Backcountry skier caught, killed in avalanche near Breckenridge

The report states that the skier was by themselves on Bald Mountain, located to the southeast of Breckenridge, when they were caught in a “minor, yet persistent avalanche.” Members from the CAIC were present at the site on Sunday.

The spokesperson for Summit County Rescue Group said that the person killed on Sunday afternoon was a 31-year-old man from Colorado, whose name they did not know and whose hometown they were not aware of.

According to the update, the avalanche route stretched approximately 1,300 feet, capturing moist snow along its path and commencing from arid, wind-blown snow. CAIC estimated that the avalanche occurred at around 13,200 feet on a slope facing east, near the summit of Bald Mountain, as stated in a Monday update.

The man was reported missing by his girlfriend on Saturday when he did not respond to phone calls after his planned return from an aerial search conducted by Life Flight helicopter, which spotted a slide but did not see any tracks going in or out of the avalanche according to a news release from the Summit County Rescue Group.

“Conditions in the area were windy and therefore any tracks could have been covered up at that point,” the rescue group said.

The individual was buried under approximately 20 inches of snow. The man was located shortly after 11 p.M. Using a transceiver signal. Two members of the group skied to the wreckage to conduct an avalanche transceiver search.

Bald Mountain avalanche
A backcountry skier was killed April 29, 2023, in this avalanche at about 13,200 feet on Bald Mountain near Breckenridge, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center investigators. Looking down the track of the avalanche, which ran about 1,300 feet, the burial location is out of view behind the rock feature on the left side of the image. (CAIC courtesy photo)

In the 2020-21 season, 12 individuals lost their lives and 7 people were killed in winter avalanches. A skier near Aspen’s Highlands Resort lost their life when an avalanche occurred on March 19. This tragic incident marks the 11th avalanche-related death in the 2022-23 season so far.

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“The conditions were considered moderate on Sunday in the elevated regions following a subpar overnight freeze and the reemergence of dust. The state agency also made this statement.”

“Anticipate these moist snow worries to intensify during the upcoming days,” CAIC officials shared on Sunday, urging backcountry skiers and snowboarders to commence and conclude the day early.

CAIC stated that on Sunday morning, there will be a decrease in strength and wetness, causing the upper snowpack to start with frozen crusts at low elevations. The main concern is for the Western Slope, where many locations experienced temperatures above freezing overnight. This raises concerns about wet avalanches occurring as the snowpack gets deeper. It will be challenging and demanding to travel over the snow, and the doors to the trap will open in the afternoon.

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