Skier dies from Steamboat tree well |

Skier dies from Steamboat tree well

Shelby Reardon
Steamboat Pilot
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Courtesy logo

A 65-year-old man from Kentucky who was skiing with his son fell into a tree well Friday at Steamboat Resort and died.

The pair were on the Morningside part of the mountain, according to Loryn Duke, director of communications with Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

Ski Patrol was on scene within a few minutes, and spent a few minutes removing the man from the tree well, according to Routt County Deputy Aaron Clock. Upon removing the man from the tree well, Clock said, patrollers started CPR.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue was called to respond to “slope maintenance,” an area at the top of Burgess Creek Road at 10:25 a.m. First responders met patrollers there and continued CPR in the ambulance. The man was pronounced dead at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. 

The man’s identity has not yet been released pending notification of next of kin.

Routt County Coroner Mitch Locke said an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

With the 230-plus inches at Steamboat Resort, deep snow and tree well danger is serious, officials said. The resort has been posting signs and pushing out information to encourage people to stay safe this season. 

Tree well safety

According to the National Association of Ski Areas, a tree well immersion accident occurs when a skier or rider falls into an area of deep unconsolidated snow, becomes immobilized and suffocates. These deaths are referred to as snow immersion suffocation.

Here are tips for skier and boarders to follow when skiing in areas of deep powder around trees. The information was compiled from Steamboat Resort and Colorado Ski Country:

  • Often, a skier or snowboarder falls into the tree well headfirst.
  • You should avoid skiing or riding close to the base of trees if possible, especially in deep snow.
  • If you begin to fall into a tree well, try and grab onto the tree or a branch to prevent yourself from falling further into the tree well.
  • If you cannot prevent yourself from falling in, try to roll over and to stay upright instead of head down as you fall.
  • Try to keep your arm above your head to create an air pocket. Use a rocking or wiggling motion to try and create more space and move towards an upright position.
  • Be aware of deep snow conditions, tree wells and other natural and man-made obstacles. Do not ski/ride too close to trees in deep or windblown snow conditions.
  • If skiing/riding in deep snow or near trees, stay with a partner and remain in visual contact.
  • Stay close enough to either pull or dig out your partner.
  • If your partner becomes immersed, first try to clear an airway, then call Steamboat Ski Patrol, 970-871-5911.

See more