Update: Skier dies in East Vail avalanche Thursday

Bodies of 3 skiers recovered after Silverton slide

The scene of Thursday’s avalanche in East Vail, which claimed the life of a skier.
Photo from Vail Ski Patrol

EAGLE — A skier was trapped and died in an avalanche Thursday afternoon at the East Vail Chutes in the backcountry outside Vail Mountain’s boundaries.

“This is a very unfortunate accident and our thoughts are with the victim’s friends and family,” Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek said in a news release announcing the death.

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of the avalanche around noon. Vail Mountain Rescue teams and members of Vail Ski Patrol also responded to the scene to assist with recovery operations.

The Eagle County Coroner’s Office will determine the cause of death and identify the victim pending notification of the family, the Sheriff’s Office said.

According to a member of ski patrol, the slide ran the length of the chute. Siberia Bowl was closed at Vail as members of ski patrol worked to assist with the rescue operation.

The avalanche death is the eighth of this winter season in Colorado.

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Rescue crews work to recover a skier killed in an avalanche Monday, Feb. 2, between Silverton and Ophir. Three skiers were killed in the slide and buried under more than 20 feet of snow.
Photo from San Juan County office of emergency management Facebook page

Bodies of 3 Eagle County residents recovered after slide near Silverton

San Juan search and rescue crews on Wednesday recovered the bodies of three Eagle County residents who were killed in an avalanche Monday, Feb. 2, between Silverton and Ophir, according to a Facebook post from the San Juan County office of emergency management.

Using signals from the men’s avalanche transceivers, crews were able to locate and extricate the skiers, who were buried under more than 20 feet of avalanche debris, according to the post.

Though the bodies were recovered Wednesday, they still need to be removed from the area by helicopter, an operation that initially was being hindered by the weather, according to officials. On Thursday, a Helitrax helicopter was able to remove the bodies from the accident scene. The San Juan County coroner then transported them to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Durango, where cause of death will be determined.

The losses from the San Juan accident — the worst since five people were killed in an avalanche near Loveland Pass on April 20, 2013 — add to an already ominous avalanche season in Colorado. Four skiers died in slides in December. Colorado’s snow season has developed dangerous slabs of packed snow underneath relatively shallow new layers, promoting the break-off of slabs and deadly slides in numerous popular backcountry locations.

The avalanche danger in the Summit and Vail zones was rated as high near and above tree line Thursday, Feb. 4, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The forecast for Friday is the same.

This story is from The Colorado Sun and Summit Daily News.

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