Snowboarder Triggers Avalanche in Colorado Requiring 20+ Search and Rescue Volunteers

Telluride Ski Area.Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Rakaskas/Shutterstock

While many people lob Instagram stories towards those still riding during this time, there has been a question of whether people are being overactive about stretching the healthcare system too thin during a time like this. Perhaps this news coming out of Telluride Colorado this week will help people understand the severity of the situation. According to a Facebook post by the Colorado-based San Miguel County Sheriff (on March 24):

“Deputies and more than three dozen Search and Rescue volunteers responded to a report of an avalanche with injured snowboarder in the East Waterfall Canyon area of Ophir. The call came into dispatch a little after 1 p.m. today. There were many skiers and snowboarders in the area. The slide started at approximately 11,500 feet, was believed to be human caused, had 1 1/2-2 1/2 foot crown and slid 1,500 feet. The local man in his 30s was seriously injured when he got caught in the slide and struck a tree. He was evacuated and transported to the Telluride Airport by Mountain Blade Runner helicopter where he was met by Telluride EMS and transported by medical helicopter to St. Mary’s Hospital. Sheriff Bill Masters wants to remind people of the dangers of the backcountry especially in light of COVID-19 when our local resources are stretched and incidents like this stretch them even more. People need to use their friggin heads.”

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San Miguel County Sheriff’s department services the Telluride area, and this is not even the first instance this week of a human-triggered slide. On the 20th the department posted this statement:

“There was a skier-triggered slide in Ophir’s Magnolia drainage today – no injuries. The Sheriff is urging backcountry skiers to use extreme caution due to the fact that Deputies, SAR members and other responders may have an extended response due to COVID-19 activity. Individuals venturing into the backcountry should always be self-rescue capable. Let’s be careful out there.”

These sobering stories are a reminder that getting out and split-boarding isn’t necessarily a life-hack for these strange times of quarantine.

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Our advice? If you INSIST that you cannot stay home, make sure to consult local Avalanche sites. We have compiled a list of resources specific information in Alaska, Arizona, California, Canada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Click HERE to see this article.

This article originally appeared on and was republished with permission.

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