Human-triggered avalanche in Slate River drainage

Two skiers caught in slide on Schuylkill Ridge

by Aimee Eaton &  Mark Reaman

Two skiers were caught and injured in an avalanche in the Birthday Bowl area of Schuylkill Ridge Monday and Crested Butte Search and Rescue (CBSAR) came to the rescue to get both skiers out of the backcountry.

According to an incident report from the Crested Butte Avalanche Center (CBAC), the two skiers were skiing the right side of the bowl. At the time of the slide, Skier 1 was skiing near the gully and Skier 2 was watching from above. The avalanche started from above Skier 2 and caught both skiers in its path. Skier 1 was briefly pulled under the snow but was then able to self-arrest after about 100 feet by grabbing a tree. He had lost gear and sustained lower leg injuries.

Skier 2 was swept downhill about 1,000 feet through rough terrain and was partially buried under the snow; though injured, he was able to extricate himself. Unaware of each other’s locations, both skiers immediately called 911, and alerted emergency personnel to their location and need for assistance.

CBSAR president Randy Felix said 18 volunteers, including two members of the CBAC heeded the call and were in the field for five hours. “Visibility was very poor with wind and blowing snow,” he said. “We had two hasty teams skinning to reach the two people involved in the avalanche. Once we reached them, the patients were evaluated and treated for their injures.  One had severe but non-life threatening injuries and need evacuation by toboggan. The second had an isolated limb injury and had lost a ski in the slide. We were fighting the clock and the weather the whole time. Conditions were near whiteout at times. The CB Mountain Rescue Team is fortunate to have very strong team members who continually drop whatever it is they are doing to put themselves in harm’s way in uncomfortable conditions to help out our fellow community members.

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