Skier escapes East Vail avalanche
Aspen, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colo. ” A skier was caught in a shallow avalanche in the East Vail Chutes on Saturday but managed to escape without injury, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said.
The slide carried the skier over some cliffs before he was able to escape it, the report said.
The avalanche, which involved recently drifted snow, was about 1 foot deep and 150 feet wide, and slid about 300 feet, the center said.
Two skiers have been killed by avalanches in separate incidents in the East Vail Chutes this winter. They have been the first fatalities in the avalanche-prone backcountry area, near the boundary of Vail Ski Resort, in more than a decade.
Snowboarder Jesse Brigham, 27, died Jan. 4 in an avalanche in the East Vail Chutes. Eight days later and several hundred yards away, another slide killed local skier Matthew Gustafson, 33.
On Monday, the avalanche danger was rated considerable above treeline and moderate below treeline for the Vail and Summit County area. But the oncoming snow and wind storm could cause stability to deteriorate, the center said.
Earlier this month, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center posted an anonymous skier’s account of being carried 800-900 vertical feet in an avalanche in the East Vail Chutes in December, close to the location of the two subsequent fatalities.
He described being swept over two cliffs, swimming for the surface and losing a ski, his hat, his goggles, both poles, part of his shovel and his avalanche probe. He escaped serious injury, wrote the skier, who said he had been a ski patroller at Keystone and in New Zealand.
“Many people have been in much smaller slides and not lived,” the skier wrote.
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The Roaring Fork Valley has, by-and-large, avoided the mountain pine beetle and spruce beetle infestations that have decimated parts of the state. However, a 2019 aerial survey showed the Roaring Fork watershed has an outbreak of Douglas-fir and western balsam beetles.