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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Telluride Backcountry Skier Uninjured in Avalanche
Contact: Susan Lilly, Public Information Officer 970-729-2028
March 1, 2017 -- (Telluride, CO) – A 26 year-old backcountry skier was swept an estimated 300 to 500 feet in an avalanche that buried him neck-deep in snow in the Bear Creek area of Telluride Wednesday morning. The skier was rescued by friends and other skiers within minutes and claimed no injuries.
San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch was initially notified by Telluride Ski Patrol that there were two individuals buried in an avalanche, but it turned out only one skier was caught in the slide.
The skier was one of four experienced backcountry skiers all well-equipped with proper avalanche equipment, including beacons, probes, shovels and avalanche airbag rescue packs.
The skiers told a Sheriff Deputy they left from the backcountry gate above Revelation Bowl in the Telluride Ski Resort after it was opened this morning. They stated that there were approximately 60 skiers ahead of them when the terrain opened.
The group told the deputy they skied to the “E Ticket” couloir near the historic Nellie Mine. With his companions in a safe spot where they were able to see him ski, the first skier skied the pitch safely and moved to a safe zone across the valley. The second skier dropped in and began to make turns next to his partner’s turns. After approximately five turns, the slope broke above him at the top of the run.
The skier was swept off his feet and pulled an estimated 300 to 500 feedt down the slope.
The skier told the deputy he deployed his airbag as soon as he realized he was in an avalanche. The skier came to rest on a tree with his head just above the snow. He told the deputy his friends were able to reach him within a minute or two and aided in his extrication. Other skiers who witnessed the slide also came to assist in the rescue.
The party was in communication with Telluride ski patrol via backcountry radios and told authorities the skier was uninjured and did not require further assistance. The skier lost his skis and poles in the slide.
Sheriff Deputy Chris White who responded to the incident said this is a great example of the importance of being prepared when entering the backcountry. “Training, proper equipment, and the ability to self-rescue were key factors in
keeping this event from having a tragic outcome.”
Neither Telluride Ski Patrol, Search and Rescue, or Telluride EMS were dispatched though all agencies were aware of the incident and available.
Sheriff Bill Masters said he commends the group’s preparedness. “The backcountry is not forgiving and you must be prepared, skilled and able to self-rescue. Fortunately, these guys were.”
The access gate to that area was reportedly closed following the slide.
Other skier triggered slides were reported in the area today. Most were reported
as being 1-3 feet in depth and seem to be a result of the last storm snow running on the older sun-crust snow below.
The San Miguel Sheriff’s Office, located in Telluride, Colorado and established in 1883, serves 7,800 residents and countless visitors across the 1,288 square miles of San Miguel County. Sheriff Bill Masters has been serving as the county’s elected Sheriff since 1980.