VAIL, Colo. — A snowboarder spent 10 to 15 minutes buried entirely under avalanche debris before he was rescued on Saturday morning in the backcountry southeast of Vail, according to a report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).
The avalanche happened about 11 a.m. Saturday in the East Vail backcountry, on a northeast-facing slope at an elevation of about 10,000 feet, according to the CAIC report.
The snowboarder was carried through the trees and completely buried with his head under about a foot and a half of snow. He was able to make an air pocket in front of his face and get his AvaLung into his mouth, the report says.
His partner recovered him in about 10 to 15 minutes after locating him using a transceiver. The snowboarder was uninjured, the report says.
CAIC issued a Special Avalanche Advisory for the Colorado mountains for Sunday and Monday, saying avalanche conditions were unusual and backcountry travelers needed to take extra precautions.
Backcountry travelers could trigger avalanches that could break very wide and run the full length of an avalanche path, CAIC said.
The warning comes after six people have died in Colorado avalanches since Jan. 30. Between Jan. 30 and Feb. 6, 15 people died in avalanches nationwide, making it the deadliest week for avalanches in the U.S. since 1910.
So far this winter, 10 people have died in avalanches in Colorado, the latest were reported Sunday: one in the backcountry near Loveland Ski Area and another in Grand County. Anyone who plans to visit the backcountry can minimize their risk by:
- Checking the current avalanche forecast and also checking the latest weather forecast to see whether conditions are likely to change.
- Never traveling alone. Always have one or more companions.
- If crossing a slope that may be prone to avalanches, doing it one person at a time to minimize the impact on the group if an avalanche is released.
- Carrying avalanche rescue equipment including an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe pole.
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