Search continues for missing boarder as avalanche keeps Berthoud Pass closed
Avalanche control operations may be held up on the west side of Berthoud Pass as rescuers search for a missing backcountry snowboarder, according to CDOT spokesperson Bob Wilson.
“If there is even the possibility of someone missing at the slope, we do not do any control,” he said just after noon on Tuesday.
As many as 15 members of Grand County Search and Rescue responded to the emergency call, which came in at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 17. Searchers are looking for a male “local” snowboarder who reportedly was last seen on the pass Monday afternoon, according to Search and Rescue Public Information Officer Greg Foley.
The search was called off at about 10 p.m. Monday night due to hazardous conditions of high winds, blowing snow and avalanche danger, he said.
Search and Rescue positioned a mobile incident command vehicle at the trailhead through the night, then continued its search early Tuesday morning, Foley said.
The search is concentrated in an area where an avalanche occurred on Monday afternoon. The area is above Seven Mile Run, near the second switchback from the top of Berthoud on the Grand County side, according to Foley. Backcountry skiers might refer to the area as “below the fingers.”
The snowboarder had been riding with another individual, according to Grand County Sheriff Rod Johnson, who is withholding the missing snowboarder’s name pending further information.
Search teams are utilizing a search and rescue dog team as well as a Recco device, which assists rescue teams in locating possible burials. Meanwhile, other team members continue a ground search, hoping the snowboarder built a snow cave to survive the night.
Although weather conditions are improving, the pass could be closed for the rest of the day, Wilson said, but CDOT operators do not expect another overnight closure.
“We do expect (the closure) to continue through the majority of the day,” Wilson said. “Until we can account for the individual, we’re not going to do anything at this point.”
Berthoud was closed shortly after 11 a.m. on Monday due to wind speeds clocked at up to 90 miles per hour, creating poor visibility and heavy snowfall, creating high avalanche potential in the area.
The closure continued through the night and into today, Tuesday.
Avalanche control started on the east side of Berthoud Pass at the Stanley avalanche slide path today. As much as 20 feet of snow toppled onto the roadway from the work, Wilson said.
Cleanup operations are ongoing.
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