Helicopter helps rescue snowboarders who triggered backcountry slide on Tenmile Peak
summit daily news
SUMMIT COUNTY – Rescue workers and an Army Black Hawk helicopter retrieved two snowboarders who triggered an avalanche on Tenmile Peak Saturday.
The two male boarders snowmobiled into the forest, skinned up a ridge into the Tenmile Range and then descended into a south-facing bowl on Tenmile Peak, where they triggered the slide. One of the men got caught in the slide and suffered a lower-leg injury. They called 911 from a cell phone at about 2 p.m.
Officials summoned a Flight For Life rescue helicopter, but high winds and severe avalanche danger prevented it from landing in the vicinity of the slide, according to Summit County Rescue Group team leader Charles Pitman. Several nearby chutes were loaded with snow and had not yet slid, he said.
Thirty-seven volunteers from Vail Mountain Rescue Group, Summit County Rescue Group and Alpine Rescue Team responded to the incident. Rescuers rode snowmobiles as far as they could toward the slide, and then used skis and climbing skins to approach the snowboarders on foot.
“It was almost too dangerous to go in,” Pitman said of the avalanche conditions. “It was right at that margin.”
Once rescuers reached the men, they helped move them down the mountain to a suitable landing zone, where an Army Black Hawk helicopter from Eagle Airport retrieved the snowboarders at 7:50 p.m. The helicopter delivered the 31-year-old patient and his friend to an ambulance in the Summit Middle School parking lot and then returned to pick up the rescuers who were still in the field.
The Army helicopter came from the High Altitude Army Aviation Training Site in Gypsum.
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