Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2008-01-04
Submitted By: CAIC
Place: East Vail Backcountry
State: CO
Country: USA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 Snowboarder caught and killed

About 11:30 on 01/04 a snowboarder was caught and killed in a large avalanche between Vail Pass summit and East Vail. The path is known as CDC. The terrain was steep, 35-39 degrees, with an east to east-north-east aspect just at treeline. The large hard slab was 2 to 7 feet deep, 130 feet wide, and ran 800 vertical feet (HS-AR-R4D3-O/G). The slide initiated on an old bed surface, but quickly ran to ground. The avalanche carried the boarder over at least one cliff band and into a group of small trees. The other two party members quickly found the boarder, but they needed a rescue group to transport the victim out of the complicated terrain. The victim was the only party member on the slope at the time. All three party members were carrying avalanche beacons, shovels, and probes.

The forecasted avalanche danger for the Vail Summit Zone on Friday was MODERATE on all aspects near treeline. The forecast warned that the snowpack was ?complex and potentially tender [in] some areas? and that ?most of the activity has occurred at and above treeline on north east through south east through south west aspects.? Over the previous week, the forecasts mentioned several natural and human triggered avalanches in the Vail backcountry.

Previous avalanche fatalities in the Vail backcountry:

? 03/04/1996, 2 skiers caught, one buried and killed

? 01/12/1993, 2 skiers caught, 1 buried and killed

? 12/03/1992, 1 skier caught, buried and killed

? 01/02/1990, 3 skiers caught, one buried and killed

? 02/26/1986, 1 skier caught, buried and killed

Logan, 20080104