An avalanche Sunday near Telluride buried a backcountry skier under some 3 feet of snow, marking the sixth slide death in Colorado this season and the second in San Miguel County in about two weeks.
The skier, who authorities said was a local man, was with his dog when the slide happened. He was reported overdue on Sunday afternoon after his dog was found “barking and in distress by the man’s vehicle at the Matterhorn Nordic parking lot,” the San Miguel Sheriff’s Office said.
Search and rescue teams launched a mission near Lizard Head Pass, about 12 miles south of Telluride, to find the man. When they arrived, they found two large avalanches and then discovered equipment thought to belong to the missing man.
Because of weather and nightfall, crews waited until Monday to return to the area. Avalanche dogs helped pinpoint where the man was buried.
The man’s name has not been released. He is the second Telluride resident to be killed in an avalanche in about two weeks after 47-year-old Salvador Garcia-Atance died in a slide triggered by snowboarders who went out of bounds from Telluride Resort.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center says Sunday’s slide, which appears to have been triggered by the skier, was about 100 feet wide and ran about 500 vertical feet down.
“We are all deeply saddened to lose another husband, father and beloved member of our community in such a tragic event,” San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters said in a written statement.
Recent snowfall has elevated avalanche danger in the Colorado high country. Backcountry travelers are being warned to avoid all steep slopes above treeline to mitigate risk.
Several avalanches happened along Interstate 70 between Copper Mountain and Frisco on Sunday and Monday. The Colorado Department of Transportation on Tuesday was completing slide control work along stretches of the interstate.