Skier Killed By Avalanche During Safety Course in Colorado

Two avalanches caught six backcountry skiers in Upper Senator Beck Basin, killing one.

The first avalanche death of the season in Colorado happened during an avalanche safety course. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), six skiers participating in the course at Upper Senator Beck Basin northwest of Red Mountain Pass triggered a primary avalanche that swept up the entire group. That triggered a second avalanche that piled over the first slide and buried one male skier under 2.5 meters of snow.

The accident took place at about 13,000 feet with a south slope aspect.

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The site of the Upper Senator Beck Basin avalanche; photo by CAIC

The CAIC reported the rest of the group extricated the man and tried to revive him onsite, but they were unsuccessful. With the aid of San Juan County Search and Rescue, Ouray Mountain Rescue, La Plata County Search and Rescue, Careflight, and the CAIC, the group found their way to U.S. Highway 550.

Details on the accident are still thin, and the investigation is ongoing. While sad, this is not the first death during an avalanche safety-related outing. In 2013, five men were killed at Loveland Pass after an event focused on avalanche safety.

Authorities have not released the man’s identity at this time. It is a very sad reminder of the danger avalanches pose to every skier. According to the CAIC, avalanches claim an average of 27 people each year in the U.S.

Our condolences to the victim’s friends and family.

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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.

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