Colorado skier dies in Front Range avalanche

In Colorado’s first avalanche fatality of the 2021/22 season, a man died in a slide around 2 p.m. on December 24 on the southeast end of South Diamond Peak near Cameron Pass in the Front Range. The victim has not been identified.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) reported that the avalanche failed on faceted snow one to three feet below the surface on an east aspect at an elevation of 10,500 feet. Much of the slope above the avalanche was forested, but pictures and satellite imagery show the starting zone was near the top of an opening. The crown broke on a convexity where the slope steepened to about 38 degrees.

The crown of the fatal slide that killed a Colorado skier on Dec. 24 was near the top of an opening in the trees, on a convexity where the slope steepened to about 38 degrees. [Photo] Courtesy L. Moufett, Colorado Avalanche Information Center

The skier was fully buried. His partner located and extricated him with a beacon and probe search, but he did not survive. Search and rescue teams from Jackson County and the Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol responded.

The CAIC forecast for Dec. 24 said the avalanche danger was high near and above tree line, and considerable below. The main avalanche problem involved persistent slabs on north to east aspects near and above tree line. An avalanche watch had been issued for Cameron Pass and Diamond Peaks at the time, and a special avalanche advisory is in effect for the area until at least Dec. 29.

This satellite view shows the approximate location of the slide on South Diamond Peak near Cameron Pass. [Photo] Courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center

This marks the fourth avalanche death in the U.S. this winter. Colorado saw 12 fatalities in the 2020/21 season, the most dangerous in the U.S. in a century.

This report will be updated when more information becomes available.  

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