The site of Saturday’s avalanche near Loveland Pass, Colo. Reports indicate that some blocks of snow were the size of golf carts, and that the avalanche was up to 8 feet deep. (denver.cbslocal.com image)
Some truly horrible news out of Colorado Saturday night, where an avalanche near Loveland Pass killed four snowboarders and one skier.
A report from CBS News says the slide was 200 yards wide and 8 feet deep. CBS identified those killed as 32-year-old Christopher Peters, of Lakewood; 32-year-old Joseph Timlin, of Gypsum; 33-year-old Ryan Novack, of Boulder; 36-year-old Ian Lanphere, of Crested Butte; and 33-year-old Rick Gaukel, of Estes Park. One person survived and was able to dig out to report the incident to authorities.
The Adventure Journal reports that Timlin was the sales manager for a number of snowboard industry brands. Lamphere, a skier, was the owner of Gecko Climbing Skins and the co-founder of Backcountry TV and the Stowe Mountain Film Festival.
A lot of snow had fallen in the area, and the report says the Colorado Avalanche Information Center had warned of risky avalanche conditions.
The avalanche occurred in a backcountry area near the Loveland Ski Area, but was not inside the boundaries of the resort.
Backcountry skiing and snowboarding has become increasingly popular in recent years, mostly because of the promise of no crowds, fresh snow and the added challenge. Not to mention, the appeal of not having to buy increasingly pricey lift tickets.
The Adventure Journal posted this graphic of increasing avalanche deaths from the CAIC:
Improved technology in terms of safety equipment has also given more people the drive to try their hand at backcountry skiing and boarding.
The CBS report notes that all members of the group were wearing avalanche beacons. Other reports note that the group was experienced in the backcountry.
The site of Saturday’s avalanche at Loveland Pass. (denver.cbslocal.com image)
The Denver Post has done some thorough reporting on this, noting that it’s the deadliest avalanche to hit Colorado since a 1962 slide killed seven people. The Post also quotes one expert as saying that current conditions — recent snowfall, snowpack instability and high winds — makes it much less like April (when the snowpack tends to consolidate and stabilize) and more like February, when conditions are normally more unstable and dangerous.
The following video gives additional reporting, though they do not ID the victims.