Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2003-03-05
Submitted By: CAIC
Place: Hancock Pass, North of Monarch Pass
State: CO
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught, buried, and killed

Hancock Pass, Sawatch Range,

March 5, 2003

1 Snowmobiler Caught, Buried and Killed

This morning at about 0920 (Thursday, March 6), a rescue dog alerted and found the victim of the avalanche that had run early on Wednesday afternoon, March 5. The site is Hancock Pass, which is on the Continental Divide of the Sawatch Range about 9 miles North of Monarch Pass.

The slide was a very large hard slab (classified as HSAV4G), made up of wind slab on top of depth hoar. It released to the ground. The avalanche released on a NNE slope at an elevation of 12,760 ft and fell 1100 feet vertical. It was 4 feet deep and 700 feet wide. Slope angle was 39 deg.

On Wednesday several snowmobilers were riding the jeep road that ascends the north side of Hancock Pass. The two leading machines may have triggered the slide, but they escaped. The victim was further behind and downslope. He was swept through trees, was only shallowly buried, but had died of trauma. The powder cloud was reported to be 100 ft high. This is the third avalanche death in Colorado this winter. In the US, there have been 22.