Keystone patroller dies in Wolf Creek Pass avalanche
Summit Daily News
Aspen, CO Colorado
WOLF CREEK, Colo. – An avalanche on Wolf Creek Pass, near the ski area, claimed Colorado’s sixth life so far this season early Thursday afternoon.
The victim was a first-year, exchange Keystone ski patroller from New Zealand who was confirmed dead by responders. The patroller was skiing on personal time.
Responders said the slide involved three people. All three were buried when a compression slide was triggered from below, though two were able to extricate themselves with one having nothing more than a knee injury. Both were able to travel out on their own with emergency responders.
A body recovery is expected to occur Friday morning via “long line,” a method of extricating a body without having to land the helicopter on scene. The helicopter dispatched from Durango was unable to land, but shuttled response personnel to the scene. It was unclear Thursday afternoon whether Mineral County or La Plata County sent search and rescue members to aid Wolf Creek Ski Patrol first responders.
An avalanche also occurred in Mushroom Bowl, in the Vail Mountain sidecountry, causing an injury, though the extent is unknown.
Officials call the current snowpack “spooky,” with significant cracking and settling, and warn backcountry travelers to be more cautious than usual this season.
As Pitkin County Open Space and Trails moves closer to approval for the development of a 7-mile trail from Redstone to McClure Pass, some Crystal Valley residents cry foul over wildlife impacts and potential for further development.