PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — A snowshoer and two dogs were killed Friday in an avalanche outside of Marble.
Search teams on Saturday found the body of the 27-year-old man and the dogs, who had been missing since the avalanche late Friday afternoon in Gunnison County. A family member identified the man as 27-year-old Nate Schmidt.
Three snowshoers and two dogs were traveling Friday afternoon on an unmaintained road in the lower part of Yule Creek, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
They “moved to a road that cut mid-slope along the side of a steep gully,” the CAIC said in a report. “They triggered an avalanche and the moving snow pushed them down into the gully. The debris formed a deep pile in the gully bottom.”
Two people were partially buried but able to dig out. The avalanche was reported around 4:47 p.m., according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, which is assisting in the incident.
Rescuers went to the scene with two of the snowshoers, but they were unable to locate the man and missing dogs by Friday night.
“Due to the area’s unstable conditions and time of day, search efforts were limited to areas that could be safely examined, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The search was stopped at 9:14 p.m. Friday. Support services were offered for the three other members of the party.
Rescuers returned on Saturday and found the missing man buried nearly 5 feet deep in the avalanche path, along with the two dogs. The man was extricated from the spot just before 4 p.m. Saturday, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators found the avalanche happened on a west-facing slope below the treeline, according to the CAIC. It was about 50 feet wide and 250 vertical feet, and the face of the crown was 1-2 feet deep.
West Elk Mountain Rescue, Mountain Rescue Aspen, Carbondale Fire and Rescue District, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, and the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office responded.
Avalanche advisory in effect
The avalanche was triggered on a weekend when Colorado’s mountains are under a special avalanche advisory. Responders are warning people of the following:
- Backcountry travelers must be aware of the consequences of an avalanche, even if small.
- Travelers in undeveloped ski areas should travel with a transceiver, shovel and probe.
- Reference the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website for avalanche warnings.