Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2005-01-03
Submitted By: CAIC; Atkins
Place: Soda Mountain (Buffalo Pass), Park Range
State: CO
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 skier caught, buried, and killed

Preliminary Report from CAIC

(More details will be posted when available)

Soda Mountain (Buffalo Pass), Park Range

January 3, 2005

1 backcountry skier buried and killed

Around lunch time Monday the Routt County Sheriffs Office was notified a backcountry skier had been buried on Soda Mountain near Buffalo Pass. Companions quickly found their friend after 8-10 minutes but could not revive the 26-year-old skier. The group had used snowmobiles to access the backcountry.

The avalanche occurred on the southeast side of Soda Mountain. Soda Mountain is about 7.5 miles NE of the town of Steamboat Springs and about 7.5 miles N of the ski area.

We plan to visit the site on January 4, and will post more details when they become available.

CAIC Danger Rating

The backcountry avalanche danger for the Steamboat zone was LOW below 8,000 feet, and MODERATE above 8,000 feet.



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Article Published: Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Skier killed in avalanche

Slide death near Steamboat is state's first this season The victim was traveling in backcountry. Also, a boarder injured last month at Vail has died.

By Sean Kelly

Denver Post Staff Writer

A backcountry skier was killed in an avalanche near Steamboat Springs on Monday morning, the first snowslide death in Colorado this winter.

The 26-year-old man, who was not immediately identified pending notification of his next of kin, was one of four people skiing together on Soda Mountain, about 11 miles northeast of Steamboat Springs.

The group of four had taken snowmobiles into the backcountry, said Routt County sheriff's Lt. Richard Wood. The man apparently triggered a slab avalanche about 11 a.m. while skiing, Wood said.

The avalanche, about 30 yards wide, buried the skier.

"His companions located him within about 10 minutes and attempted resuscitation but were unsuccessful," Wood said.

The man was wearing a rescue beacon. No other skiers were caught in the slide.

Wood said skiers often use snowmobiles to reach backcountry areas. He said it was unclear how much experience the man had.

Soda Mountain gets heavy annual snowfalls and is popular with backcountry skiers and snowmobilers. About 500 inches of snow fall on nearby Buffalo Pass each year.

Although the man was the first person to die in an avalanche in Colorado this winter, he is the ninth such fatality in the U.S., according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center in Boulder.

"We've actually had a fairly quiet winter so far in terms of accidents," said Dale Atkins, the center's avalanche forecaster.

Atkins said the mountains around Steamboat Springs have moderate avalanche danger, meaning human-triggered slides are possible. Other mountains in Colorado, particularly in the southern and central parts of the state, have considerable danger, he said.

"People heading into the backcountry should be very leery of any steep, wind-drifted slope regardless of elevation," Atkins said.

Meanwhile, a 26-year-old Venezuelan man who collided with a tree while snowboarding at Vail last month has died, the resort said Monday.

Francisco Pauly, who was airlifted to a Denver hospital Dec. 26, died Friday, resort spokeswoman Jen Brown said.

She said that because of federal privacy laws, the resort learned of his death only after family members informed resort officials. His hometown was unavailable. The Eagle County coroner did not return a message.

Staff writer Sean Kelly can be reached at 303-820-1858 or