Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 1999-04-07
Submitted By: CAIC
Place: Near Ophir in SW Colorado
State: CO
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 skier caught, buried, and killed

A 31-year-old Telluride man was buried and killed Wednesday afternoon near Ophir in SW Colorado. The man was skiing

alone at the time of the avalanche; however, he had been with friends but stopped to wait for some others.

Eight skiers in two groups were descending the Magnolia slide path in the Ophir valley. The victim was in a group of five,

but decided to wait for the other three skiers. The four skiers in the first group continued down to pick up their shuttle

vehicle. It seems the victim headed down alone and triggered the soft slab avalanche.

The four skiers now at their vehicle saw the powder cloud , but at first thought it was only blowing snow. When they

arrived at the bottom of the path they realized what had happened; they feared the worst, thinking the remaining four had

been buried. The San Miguel Sheriff's Office was notified at 1250 hours.

They immediately started a beacon search and picked up only one signal. As they approached the signal they spotted a hand

sticking out from the snow. They quickly uncovered the man and started cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. About this time the

other skiers arrived and confirmed only one had been buried.

Members of the San Miguel County Search and Rescue and the Telluride Ski Patrol responded. The rescuers continued

CPR but without success. The victim was declared dead at the scene. An autopsy is scheduled to determine if the victim

died of suffocation or trauma.

Avalanche Data

This avalanche was classified as SS-AS-3-O. It fractured 2-5 feet deep by 600 feet across on the north-facing shoulder of

Yellow Mountain. The slab failed well below treeline and is reported to have run about 1200 vertical feet. CAIC

forecasters have headed to the site to investigate the avalanche and additional details will be posted when they become


Atkins, 4/8/99.