Skier injured in avalanche near Berthoud Pass
Grand County Search and Rescue evacuated a 46-year-old male skier who was injured in an avalanche near Current Creek on Berthoud Pass on Sunday afternoon, May 10.
The skier had been caught in an avalanche and sustained a knee injury that prevented him from skiing out, according to information released by GCSAR. The avalanche occurred in Moonlight Basin. GCSAR responded with 12 members, four MMRT members from Grand County EMS, and a deputy from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
GCSAR met three members of the party at Current Creek, and quickly learned that two skiers were caught, one injured, and the injured subject wasn’t mobile. Two people stayed with the subject and one of the skiers volunteered to go back in. Three teams were formed and one team reached the injured skier at about 5 p.m. All teams and subjects were out by 7: 30 p.m.
The injured subject and his girlfriend have made 40 ski descents of Colorado 14-ers. All members of the party were from the Denver area.
“This is an excellent example of how unpredictable the avalanche conditions are this time of year. These folks we extremely fortunate the avalanche didn’t capture and seriously injure or kill one or more members of their party,” said John Sanderson, GCSAR president.
GCSAR team member Richard Jones filed the following report with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center:
“Six people were traversing from the top of Berthoud Pass (after ascending Mt. Russell) to the Broome Hut. All members of the group had avalanche equipment. One individual in the group was having trouble at altitude and needed to descend, so the group skied the Current Creek Bowl (above Moonlight Bowl in Current Creek drainage). Due to poor visibility and flat light, the group did not notice the cornice at the top of the convexity.
“After Subject A dropped over the cornice, he released some slough. When Subject B dropped over the cornice, he triggered the avalanche. The slide was R1D1, approx 150 yards wide and 40 yards long (much wider than long). The crown is estimated at 8 to 12 inches, approx 40 degrees, and appeared to only be a storm slab. Aspect ENE, elevation 12,000 feet.
“The debris was still quite high in the path, maybe 30-35 degrees where it came to a rest. The slide caught both subjects, but neither were completely buried. Subject A broke his binding and Subject B suffered a knee injury. All members of the party were able to descend. Subject B was moved to a line of small trees below the path, where members of the group dug a deep snow pit/hole to place the subject in to get him out of the wind. Some members of the group descended to the highway to meet SAR, and others stayed with the Subject (either two or three skied out).”
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