Avalanche on First Creek Jan. 5
January 10, 2017
An avalanche north of Berthoud Pass on First Creek was reported on Jan. 5 according to The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). The reporting party stated that there was a slide with one person fully buried, one half-buried, and one person suffering from a leg injury.
The party rescued and evacuated themselves and Grand County Search and Rescue (GCSAR) never went into the field after receiving a call that the party no longer needed assistance.
A preliminary avalanche report video posted by CAIC on YouTube investigated the slide. The video stated that GCSAR was told three people were involved. The CAIC investigator stated in the video that the avalanche occurred Northeast of Broome Hut where the terrain drops off into First Creek.
The video stated it appears the party was making a descending traverse to the south towards the ridgeline between Second and First Creeks. The assumed traverse crosses just below a slope of around 28 degrees.
The CAIC investigator stated that there were two obvious holes in the debris. According to the report, it looked as though there were tracks from three rescuers with one whose tracks appear to have been conducting a transceiver search for the buried victims. The average slope angle was 38 degrees according to the video.
Jan. 5 had Considerable-High Avalanche danger. The slope that slid was a small feature and visibility was "horrible at times" that day the investigator states. The slope is a subtle feature with low angle slopes on either side of the slide area.
"This avalanche shows how much we can learn from close calls," the CAIC video states. "Too often, the only avalanches that the CAIC gets to investigate, in detail, are fatalities. Non-fatal incidences are very rarely reported or we hear about them third-hand or after a long period."
"In this case, multiple people were rescued, and the group evacuated themselves with no outside help," the video stated.
Public Information Office for GCSAR Greg Foley said the full story is still developing. Spencer Logan of CAIC said the group decided they did not need outside assistance after the initial call, and the injured skier was able to hike out with help from the rest of the party. Logan said he is working on an official incident report, which will hopefully be out later this week. According to CAIC's website, the average crown of the slide was 40 centimeters and the maximum crown was 50 centimeters.