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Multiple avalanches triggered on Loveland Pass Thursday

Search and rescue teams ultimately determined no one was buried or injured in the avalanches.

CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. — Two avalanches triggered by skiers within a matter of minutes of each other shut down Loveland Pass Thursday afternoon. The warnings of dangerous avalanche conditions aren’t keeping people out of the backcountry and rescue teams fear the holiday weekend could be deadly.

"The holiday weekend hasn’t even started yet and we’re already starting to respond to calls," said Jake Smith with Alpine Rescue Team. He also works as the Public Information Officer with the Mountain Rescue Association.

As rescue crews responded to one avalanche, a different skier set off another in a spot most know to stay away from.

"As we were heading down, another slide occurred at the same time on Idiot’s Cornice," said Smith. "It’s kind of a fitting name unfortunately."

Idiot's Cornice has got quite the reputation upon Loveland Pass. 

"That cornice up on that ridge, we call that idiot’s cornice because it’s a really dangerous thing to ride this time of the season," said Jordan Champalou, a backcountry skier. "We saw one guy who went up and did a run earlier and he was talking about how he was on top of an avalanche that had already happened earlier. Then he decided to go back up and ride it as the search and rescue teams were up here and he triggered another avalanche right in front of all the ski patrol and everything."

Champalou saw the helicopter and dozens of rescuers arrive.

"They’re out here with helicopters and snow mobiles and they’re making sure that we’re all safe," said Champalou. "And then you’re going to go up there and cause and avalanche. It’s not a good move."

At least six different search and rescue teams and police departments responded to the avalanches near Loveland Pass as a Flight for Life helicopter helped search for any victims. Luckily, everyone made it out alive today and no one was buried in the snow.

"An avalanche is a very resource intensive call. It’s also a very time sensitive call," said Smith. "Alpine itself had 24 members respond. Due to the proximity to Summit County, we also had Summit County Rescue Group respond. We had responders from the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office, Summit County Sheriff’s Office, Flight for Life, the State Patrol, members of the Avalanche Deployment Team at Arapahoe Basin. We had a lot of people out today."

When beauty collides with danger, it’s probably best to stay away from Idiot’s Cornice.

Avalanches have killed four people in three weeks in Colorado . The snow conditions might seem stable, until they’re not.

"We’re in the awkward phase where the snowpack seems a little more stable and it’s harder for people to get those obvious signs of instability that they might expect to see," said Smith. "Your only sign that a slope is about to slide might be that it rips out underneath you."



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