The Denver Post

Skier rescued after spring snow avalanche


A skier savoring the big spring snow off Berthoud Pass just above timberline Sunday got caught in an avalanche and suffered an injury but survived.

Grand County rescuers reached two men and a woman at the scene of the avalanche — about 100 feet wide and 40 feet long — at about 11,500 feet elevation in the Currant Creek area.

The avalanche struck one of the men, who suffered a knee injury, Grand County Emergency Medical Service commander Troy Nelson said. He was carried out on a litter, Nelson said. The others skied out on their own.

Thirteen rescuers, including a mountain medical team, responded. When the avalanche hit, one of the skiers dialed 911 and notified a Grand County dispatcher.

Sudden wet, heavy spring snow on a weak base, combined with strong wind, created conditions where avalanches were likely.

According to a Colorado Avalanche Informatio­n Center bulletin, state transporta­tion crews triggered a dozen or so shallow snow slabs Sunday as part of their efforts to control avalanches.

Clearing skies and warming temperatur­es Monday are expected to reduce snow stability. Sunshine in May can rapidly weaken fresh snow.

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