BC Banter: Avalanche Accidents from Austria to Colorado, Winter Storm Gorgan Dumps Snow Across U.S.

U.S. Ski Team Athletes Die in Avalanche


[Photo] Courtesy of U.S. Ski Team

Soelden, Austria U.S. Ski Team development athletes Ronnie Berlack, 20, of Franconia, N.H., and Bryce Astle, 19, of Sandy, Utah, died in an avalanche on January 6. They were skiing off piste down 3,058-meter Gaislachkogl, in Soelden, Austria, when the slide occurred. The four other skiers in their party were unharmed. Berlack and Astle weren’t wearing beacons, and were found by a group of 60 search and rescue members under three meters of snow. “Our hearts go out to the Berlack and Astle families, as well as to their extended sport family. Both of them loved what they did and conveyed that to those around them,” Tiger Shaw, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO, wrote on the U.S. Ski team website. To read more about these young athletes, see our story here and visit the U.S. Ski Team’s Facebook page.

Avalanche Accidents, Deaths in San Juan Mountains


Rabbit Ears Pass [Photo] Courtesy Mike Coffey

Silverton, Colo. On January 6, a shallow avalanche sliding 400 feet down Kendall Mountain, located southwest of Silverton, Colo., caught and swept 23-year-old Olivia Buchanan of Durango, Colo., into trees, knocking her unconscious. She later died at the hospital from injuries sustained during the incident. Buchanan and her partner were descending Rabbit Ears avalanche chute, otherwise known as the Arcade route, reported the Durango Herald. In that same story, Jim Donovan of San Juan Search and Rescue called the conditions “scary moderate.” “Olivia was a beautiful woman with a big heart, and a great skier. We were lucky to have her as part of our team…and she will be missed dearly,” said Durango Mountain Resort CEO Gary Derck.

The avalanche that took Buchanan’s life was just one in a string of recent accidents throughout Colorado. On December 31, climber Christopher Thomas, 39, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was killed while snowshoeing at the base of Steven’s Gulch near the Continental Divide, reported the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. On January 2, in Telluride, Colo., a snowboarder slid 900 feet after triggering an avalanche at 12,000 feet on the east-facing side of Bear Creek. For a report of the avalanche check out Telluride Daily Planet.

Winter Storm Gorgon Speeds Across U.S.weather channel_4

Since January 3, fast moving Winter Storm Gorgon’s been traveling across the U.S., dumping snow in Washington, Wyoming, Montana and parts of the Northeast, reported weather.com. Eleven inches fell in central Washington, and the storm brought mainly warm, high winds—up to 94 mph in Boulder County—and two feet of snow to the northern Rockies. Wyoming received Gorgon’s greatest snowfall, with a reported 45.8 inches falling at Grand Targhee within 32 hours from January 4 to 5. An avalanche in Essex, Mont., covered U.S Highway 2 with three to five feet of snow, reported NBC Montana.

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