Skier killed in Routt County avalanche was 49-year-old Steamboat man
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Avalanche conditions in the Steamboat and Flat Tops region were forecast as moderate on Saturday, when a backcountry skier was killed in an avalanche east of Steamboat Springs.
The skier who died after being caught in the slide was identified as Andrew Hyde, 49, of Steamboat Springs by Routt County Undersheriff Doug Scherar on Sunday.
According to the sheriff’s office, Hyde was found not breathing near a tree, and efforts to perform CPR on him while authorities and Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers arrived were unsuccessful.
A second skier was injured and evacuated by Classic Air Medical. Scherar said efforts to recover Hyde were called off Saturday night because of safety concerns working in the area in the dark. Efforts to retrieve Hyde’s body resumed Sunday morning, Scherar said.
The avalanche happened just after noon Saturday in the drainage area of the North Fork of Fish Creek, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The slide happened at about 9,800 feet elevation on a northwest-facing slope and was triggered by the skiers.
Avalanche center staff were in the area on Sunday and are expected to release a final report next week.
Avalanche risk is measured on a scale of one to five, with moderate being the second-lowest rating. However, a 2006 study found that about half of all avalanche deaths in Colorado occurred when the risk was forecast as moderate.
Ian Fowler, a forecaster for the northern mountains for CAIC, said that the snowpack is relatively safer on south-facing slopes, though on warmer days, sinking into wet snow is a sign it is weakening.
He says the safest slopes are those less than 30 degrees, where there is not steeper terrain above.
“Don’t let the yellow (moderate) on the danger and the sunshine lull you into steep north and easterly facing terrain where the snowpack is cold and mid winter-like,” Fowler said.
There have been more than 40 avalanches reported across Colorado since Thursday, when a snowboarder was killed in a slide in the North San Juan Mountain zone in southern Colorado, where conditions were also considered moderate.
Across Colorado this winter, six people have been killed in five avalanches, according to the avalanche center.
Last year was one of the deadliest in Colorado’s backcountry with 12 people dying in avalanches across the state.
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