They Just Keep Dying: Why ‘Experienced’ Riders are Dying in Predictable Avalanche Accidents, and What We Can Do About It.

At about 10:15 in the morning on April 20th, 2013, five snowboarders and one skier met in the parking lot of the Loveland Pass ski area for a backcountry tour up the Sheep Creek drainage   They  were participants in the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Gathering, an event organized to promote backcountry snowboarding and avalanche safety. The participants discussed the plans for the day and began to skin up an old summer road towards low-angle terrain at the other end of the drainage.

Within minutes, having skinned only a few hundred yards, all six members of the party were buried by a slab avalanche measuring 800 x 600 feet, with an average depth of 5 feet, in some places 12 feet deep. One was buried to his neck and survived, trapped for four hours touching two of his buried friends but unable to move.  The other five perished, some buried 10-12 feet deep.

sheep creek avalanche

Sheep Creek Avalanche Site: The group entered the toe of the path from the right, within a few hundred yards of the parking lot. (Photo: CAIC)

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