Snowboarder dies in avalanche near Loveland Pass |

Snowboarder dies in avalanche near Loveland Pass

Julie Sutor
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. – A snowboarder died Wednesday afternoon in a backcountry avalanche, mile west of Arapahoe Basin on the south side of Highway 6.

The 20-year-old man was riding with two other male snowboarders in the Steep Gullies area, a popular backcountry spot outside the A-Basin ski boundary.

The three snowboarders triggered the avalanche at about 2:50 p.m. The slide carried the victim an estimated 1,000 feet, almost completely burying his body. It took the two friends 20 to 25 minutes to reach the victim and make a 911 call.

All three men were from Spring Grove, Ill., and two of them, including the victim, have lived in the Summit County area since November. The third had arrived for a visit two days before the incident. No one in the party was carrying avalanche rescue gear (a beacon, avalanche probe and shovel).

The victim’s name is being withheld, pending notification of family members. The cause of death is also being withheld, pending further investigation. The victim worked for Breckenridge Ski Resort, according to Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson.

About 37 rescuers responded to the call. Among the responders were members of the volunteer Summit County Rescue Group, Arapahoe Basin Ski Patrol, Keystone Ski Patrol and the Summit County Ambulance Service. A team of rescuers hiked up to the area of the avalanche, recovered the body, set up an up-haul rope system and brought the victim up the slope to Hwy. 6.

The snowpack this season has been highly unstable, and yesterday’s slide was the second human-triggered avalanche in the Steep Gullies this week. A skier triggered a slide in the area Monday morning, although no one was hurt or killed then.

Given the dangers presented by recent snowfall, the Summit County Rescue Group reminded all backcountry recreators to take extra precautions. The group advised travelers to check the forecast with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, choose safe routes, carry avalanche gear and know how to use it.

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