FORT COLLINS - A CSU-Fort Collins student was killed in an avalanche near Cameron Pass on Saturday when the dog he and his companion were skiing with apparently triggered the very large slide, officials say.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Office identified the CSU student as Joe Philpott, 26. Surviving the avalanche was Alex White, 24, the sheriff said. The dog is still missing and presumed dead, officials said. Philpott was a junior in CSU's Warner College of Natural Resources, and grew up in Durango.
White, also a college student, was trapped by the avalanche but survived for three hours entombed in snow until rescuers located him via his avalanche beacon. Jackson County Sheriff Scott Fischer said many members of the county's search and rescue team were participating in a snow machine poker run in nearby Gould, and raced to the scene when they received word.
Fischer said White was wearing a breathing device that helps a user breathe under the snow.
"His core temperature was incredibly low. He was in a hypothermic state," Fischer said of White. "He's going to make a recovery. He should be released probably this week."
White remains hospitalized in fair condition.
The men were skiing in the backcountry near the Nokhu Crags in an area known as the Paradise Bowl. The two men had finished their run, and their dog was running down the tracks when the slide let loose, said Scott Toepfer of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
"The two guys were at the bottom of the run," he said "The dog probably triggered the avalanche, is what it's looking like."
The slide killed Philpott on scene. White was flown by helicopter to Medical Center of the Rockies, Crocket said. The dog is missing; Fischer said rescuers searched for the dog but were unable to find it. While backcountry skiiers ofen wear beacons that allow rescuers to find them, few people put them on their dogs.
This was the fourth avalanche fatality in Colorado this season. On Feb. 2, a man was injured in an avalanche on South Diamond backcountry skiing area of Cameron Pass
Two CAIC investigators visited the slide Sunday. The slide on the east-facing slope was measured at about 1-6 feet deep and about 1,200 feet wide, and ran down 400-500 feet.
"It was a very large avalanche," Toepfer said.
On Saturday, the avalanche danger was rated at "considerable" for that kind of slope, meaning human-triggered slides were likely.
The Nokhu Crags are on the Jackson County side of the Larimer-Jackson county line, northwest of Fort Collins up the Poudre Canyon and Colo. Highway 14.