VAIL, Colo. - An avalanche near Vail Pass killed one snowboarder Thursday afternoon following two major snowstorms in the area this week that left local avalanche danger listed as "considerable."
The Eagle County Sheriff's Office released a statement Thursday evening reporting the slide occurred around 1:30 p.m. at Avalanche Bowl, south of Vail Pass. The victim was male, but the Sheriff's Office is not releasing his name until family members are notified. Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jessie Mosher said the victim's age is not yet known, and "it's my understanding that they were not locals," she said.
"It appears that the very large avalanche was triggered by two snowboarders who were dropped off at the top of the bowl by a friend on a snowmobile. The three individuals involved had been taking turns making runs down the Avalanche Bowl all day," according to the Eagle County Sheriff's Office news release. "Detectives with the Eagle County Sheriff's Office were informed that the parties involved were under the influence of Dead-Head OG (a strain of marijuana) at the time of the incident."
The Sheriff's Office reported that one of the snowboarders was able to escape the avalanche but the other became trapped.
"Friends were able to locate the victim using avalanche beacons, however resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful," according to the Sheriff's Office.
A preliminary Colorado Avalanche Information Center report describes the slide as a deep, persistent slab that was 10 to 20 feet deep and close to 1,000 feet wide. The center reported that the snowboarder triggered the slide on a north-facing aspect near treeline on North Ptarmigan Hill, at about 12,000 feet.
"One rider was caught, washed into a stand of trees, and was killed," wrote Ethan Greene in the preliminary avalanche center report. "He likely died from his injuries. Other touring groups in the area helped with the first response. U.S. Forest Service, Eagle and Summit county sheriff's offices, and Eagle and Summit county search and rescue groups responded to the accident."
The Sheriff's Office reported that all three involved were experienced snowboarders and snowmobilers who are very familiar with the Avalanche Bowl area. They were all reportedly carrying safety equipment including avalanche beacons.
The Avalanche Center reported that it will send staff members to the site Friday to investigate and will report more information as it becomes available.