Search in avalanche debris on Vail Pass turns up nothing | SummitDaily.com
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Search in avalanche debris on Vail Pass turns up nothing

KIM MARQUIS

SUMMIT COUNTY – “When it rains, it pours,” said Summit County Rescue Group team leader Mike Schmitt. Snowfall – not rain – was truly the inclement weather that caused at least one of two emergency calls to search and rescue Saturday.At around noon Saturday, search and rescue received a report that a snowmobiler may have been caught in an avalanche that ripped off Shrine Bowl on Vail Pass. “There was a track in but possibly not a track out (of the avalanche debris),” Schmitt said. “It was difficult to tell if the tracks did, or did not, exit the debris area because of the blowing snow.”A three-hour search turned up nothing.”We feel very confident no one was caught in there,” Schmitt said.Schmitt said the avalanche was about 100 feet wide and ran 300 vertical feet.When arriving on scene, 14-16 search and rescue volunteers did a beacon search, then sent two dog teams through the area so the animals could try to sniff out potential survivors. When that turned up nothing, the group did a spot probe, which involves poking the snow with long poles to search for buried bodies or items. The avalanche debris was 8-9 feet deep, Schmitt said.They then set up a probe line to check the entire area in a grid fashion.The search party did not find snowmobile parts or any other indication that someone had been trapped.Twenty minutes before search and rescue was called to the Vail Pass incident, a call was received from a party staying at Janet’s Cabin in Guller Gulch, where a guest at the backcountry cabin had suffered a back injury.Two search and rescue members flew with the Flight For Life helicopter to evacuate the injured party from the cabin. Schmitt did not know if the injury was incurred while skiing in the backcountry.The search and rescue crew departed the cabin on snowshoes.No other information was available Saturday.The avalanche danger is rated considerable near and above timberline wherever more than a foot of snow fell during the last storm cycle, or where winds could have increased the danger, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The danger is rated moderate below timberline. Caution should be exercised on any slope that is 35 degrees or steeper, staff at the forecast center said.Kim Marquis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at kmarquis@summitdaily.com.


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