Colorado Avalanche Deaths Surpasses a Grim Tally
“The U.S. is enduring a deadly backcountry season, with Smith’s death marking the 35th avalanche fatality this season. That tally includes 20 skiers and snowboarders, eight snowmobilers and five climbers. In Colorado, the 12 men killed include 10 with many decades of experience in the winter backcountry.” -Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun
Blevins, J. (2021, March 23). Eagle County mountaineer killed in avalanche outside Beaver Creek is 12th fatality this season. The Colorado Sun. https://coloradosun.com/2021/03/23/eagle-county-gary-smith-killed-in-avalanche-beaver-creek/
In a winter of the most dangerous avalanche conditions in more than a decade, Colorado avalanche deaths have now surpassed a grim tally that hasn’t been seen in almost thirty years. With the death of an Eagle County man earlier this week, there have now been twelve avalanche-related deaths in the state. This marks the highest number since the winter of 1992-93. Winter backcountry conditions have improved over the past month with a brief warming trend causing base layers to bond together, but danger has still been considered moderate over the past week or more. The big snows of March and the accompanied winds have added large totals and slabs to the backcountry snowpack. These conditions can be deceiving and most of the deadly slides this winter have involved extremely experienced individuals. Prior to this winter, search and rescue organizations and avalanche forecasters across the state were mainly concerned about a surge of new backcountry users. Now the focus has shifted to understanding the surge in avalanche deaths amongst experienced backcountry users.