A photo of the fatal avalanche near Breckenridge on Dec. 31, 2022. (Handout)

GREELEY — The president of the University of Northern Colorado says his 22-year-old son was killed in an avalanche while the two were backcountry skiing near Breckenridge on New Year’s Eve.

Andy Feinstein told The Greeley Tribune that he and his son, Nick Feinstein, were navigating terrain outside the Breckenridge Ski Resort boundary when they were buried in the slide.

“I literally had to use my fingertips to dig out a pocket for me to see light and to dig out,” Feinstein said. “One minute I was skiing and enjoying the powder, and the next minute I was riding what looked like a violent wave of whitewash.”

A team with a search dog found Nick Feinstein’s body about two hours after the slide.

As a family, the Feinsteins frequently took part in outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, camping and fishing, and Andy Feinstein said he and his son were “fit and experienced skiers.”

Nick Feinstein’s sister, Rachel, described Nick as “the best big brother and role model” who taught her everything she knows about growing up.

“He was honest to me all the time, even when I didn’t want him to be,” she said. “I really want to emphasize not only how good of a person he was but how good of a big brother he was. … I will forever learn from him.”

Nick Feinstein was studying enterprise technology integration at Penn State and was set to graduate in the spring.

Avalanches have killed three people in the U.S. so far this winter, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which tracks the deaths nationally. Feinstein’s death is the second from an avalanche in Colorado after a slide on Dec. 26 near Berthoud Pass in Grand County killed a person.

The CAIC is investigating the avalanche that killed Feinstein.

Summit County Rescue Group said the avalanche happened in a backcountry area called The Numbers, which is on Peak 10 just outside the Breckenridge Ski Resort boundary. The CAIC said Andy and Nick Feinstein exited the resort through a backcountry access gate.

Seven people were killed in avalanches during the 2021-22 winter in Colorado. Twelve were killed in avalanches during the 2020-21 winter, while six were killed during the 2019-2020 winter.

The Colorado Sun contributed to this report.

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