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5 killed in Loveland Avalanche 2013 (original title - More avalanches, more fatalities .....)

post #1 of 90
Thread Starter 
post #2 of 90
Just saw that. Very sad. This was a relatively high water content snow event that is sitting on weak layers in places. Be careful out there.
post #3 of 90

Loveland pass avalanche - 5 dead

Posted without comment.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2013/04/20/us/ap-us-colorado-avalanche.html?hp&_r=0

post #4 of 90

A thread at TGR suggests that the group that was caught in the Loveland Pass avalanche today might have been part of this organized event:

 

http://www.snowboard-colorado.com/rocky-mountain-high-gathering.php

 

Sheep Creek drainage above the Loveland Valley beginners ski area.

 

Very, very sad outcome.  RIP.     

post #5 of 90

Just saw a news blurb on line about this. 

So so sad. 

post #6 of 90
post #7 of 90

A very close friend of mine was killed in this... I'm really, really bummed out right now.

post #8 of 90

very sorry to hear about this and the loss of all; especially your friend Whiteroom. 

 

this is a very bad cycle as far as BC skiing goes. The wind load over those previous layers is just unstable. All that snow is so inviting but is just not safe. 

post #9 of 90

Condolences to all the family and friends.
 

post #10 of 90

Terrible tragedy. Sorry about your friend, Whiteroom.

post #11 of 90

very sorry WR. condolences to friends and family.

post #12 of 90

Sorry for your loss Whiteroom. Condolences to all of the families and friends of the victims. Really sad that this happened,

post #13 of 90

Condolences to the family and friends of the victims. Rest in Peace. 

post #14 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob-taylor View Post

A thread at TGR suggests that the group that was caught in the Loveland Pass avalanche today might have been part of this organized event:

 

http://www.snowboard-colorado.com/rocky-mountain-high-gathering.php

 

Sheep Creek drainage above the Loveland Valley beginners ski area.

 

Very, very sad outcome.  RIP.      

The slide was in sheep creek?   usually it's pretty thin up above the creek, but I guess usually doesn't mean always.  

post #15 of 90

Scary as hell. I immediately (and wrongly) assumed that finally some of the clueless jokers up there got caught, but it wasn't that.  

 

 

http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_23074729/colorado-avalanche-victims-bash-tragic

 

 

Colorado avalanche victims were part of snowboard "bash" turned tragic

POSTED:   04/21/2013 01:01:21 PM MDT
UPDATED:   04/21/2013 01:07:34 PM MDT
By Jason Belvins
The Denver Post
 
A ten-foot thick slab of snow broke free and buried six backcountry snowboarders in an avalanche in Sheep Creek Bowl below Loveland Pass on Saturday. (Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)

LOVELAND PASS — The five men killed Saturday in Colorado's deadliest avalanche in 50 years were participants in a backcountry snowboarder event called the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Bash.

Four of the five were expert snowboarders and one was an expert skier.

They were representatives and founders of snowsport companies, guides, avalanche experts and veteran backcountry travelers, gathering in the normally safer spring season to celebrate backcountry snowboarding, raise money for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and test the newest gear.

The five killed in the avalanche were:

* Chris Peters, 32, from Lakewood.

* Joe Timlin, a 32-year-old sales representative with Jones Snowboards from Gypsum and an organizer of the backcountry gathering.

* Ryan Novack, 33, of Boulder.

* Ian Lamphere, a 36-year-old skier from Crested Butte with an infant and fiancé. Lamphere founded the company Gecko Skins, which makes innovative climbing skins.

* Rick Gaukel, a 33-year-old American Mountain Guides Association-certified climbing guide with extensive avalanche education from Estes Park.

The sole survivor of the avalanche, Jerome Boulay, a sales representative with Silverton's Venture Snowboards, was dug free by rescuer Mike Bennett, a Dillon resident.

Bennett spent the day riding on the south-facing Dry Gulch area across from the pass. He said organizers were "super apprehensive about safety."

"Everything was about safety," Bennett said. "Our whole goal was about being safe. The goal for us was just getting together to talk about safety and try some new gear."

Bennett was in the Loveland Valley parking lot, hanging with fellow backcountry snowboarders when Colorado Department of Transportation officials informed the group of a big avalanche in the Sheep Creek drainage just northeast of the Loveland Pass summit.

Bennett and a friend rushed up the pass and prepared their gear for a search.

The avalanche was only a couple hundreds yards from a turn-out on Highway 6.

Bennett said his buddy was already digging frantically, uncovering what would be a body when he arrived around 2 p.m. at the middle section of the massive avalanche that released several hundred feet up the slope.

Bennett said he suspected his friends were buried in the debris and began searching with his avalanche beacon and picked up a signal.

He came across a snowboarder, with only one arm and his head above the icy chunks.

"I didn't hear him yelling. I came around a corner and saw him and heard him at the same time," Bennett said.

Bennett started digging and partially freed the sole survivor, who was later identified as Boulay.

"I said 'Well you're breathing and I think you're OK right now so I'm going to start digging for these other two guys,'" Bennett said.

Boulay said he had been buried for an hour. "Still I was hoping," Bennett said. "Some of them had an Avalung. Another had a Float pack. We were hoping someone was still alive."

After arduous digging through concrete-like snow, Bennett found his two friends tangled in timber about two feet below the surface.

"They were wrapped around each other, below a patch of trees," Bennett said. "The two guys were right there next to (Boulay). He could almost touch them."

Bennett stayed and assisted rescuers from the Alpine Rescue Team and Clear Creek Search and Rescue. The last body was pulled from the snow at 5:30 p.m. That man was buried 15 feet deep, Bennett said.

On Friday night as part of the bash, there had been a party and raffle with more than 50 bash attendees at the Dillon Dam Brewery.

The event was not affiliated with Loveland ski area, although the group was using the parking lot of the closed Loveland Valley area.

The Friday event raised $1,700 for the avalanche center.

Summit County avalanche forecaster Scott Toepfer spoke at the party.

Toepfer shared the recent avalanche forecast for the Summit County and Vail area, warning of "deep persistent slabs and fresh wind slabs" on the north, east and southeast aspects near and above treeline.

Toepfer said that a snowboarder had been killed the on Thursday on a north-northeast-facing slope near Vail Pass in an avalanche that triggered near treeline.

A few days earlier, as heavy snow fell and high winds loaded slopes, avalanches in the Straight Creek drainage on the west side of the Eisenhower Tunnel had ripped to the ground on the same weak layer of rotten snow near the ground.

"One thing that we always try to find our patterns," Toepfer said as he geared up early Sunday to go investigate the massive slide. "Well we are seeing one lately: near treeline, between 11,800 (feet) and 12,200 (feet) on that north-northeast aspect."

After arduous digging through concrete-like snow, Bennett found his two friends tangled in timber about two feet below the surface.

All five men killed in the avalanche were wearing their equipment and all were carrying essential avalanche rescue gear.

Four were wearing splitboards - snowboards that split into wide skis that are used with climbing skins to ascend slopes - and one, Lamphere, was wearing skis with his skins also attached.

Avalanche investigators Saturday and Sunday said the group appeared to be well prepared and aware of avalanche danger.

"I think they were trying to do a lot of things right. These weren't guys who were reckless and didn't care. They all had gear and I think they cared about making good decisions," said Tim Brown, a Summit County avalanche forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center after investigating the avalanche site late Saturday.

"That is an important message right now. You can do a lot of things right but still be caught in a dangerous situation," Brown said.

Investigators said the avalanche was about 8-feet to 10-feet deep and stretched 1,100 feet. Debris - some chunks were the size of a small car - clogged a narrow chasm below the basin.

Bennett said he often skins and rides the road-accessible gully at the bottom of one of the open bowl that funnels into the Sheep Creek drainage.

"Yeah I've ridden this gully but I've never gone up there in the bowl," Bennett said." Too high of consequences. But those guys were not going up there. They were crossing at the bottom. They were spaced out a bit. It seemed like they were trying to space out. I'm telling you the idea here was just about trying to get out, ride our snowboards and be safe. We had the very best intentions."

Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374, jblevins@denverpost.com or



Read more:Colorado avalanche victims were part of snowboard "bash" turned tragic - The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_23074729/colorado-avalanche-victims-bash-tragic#ixzz2R7zDqTH9
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post #16 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post

A very close friend of mine was killed in this... I'm really, really bummed out right now.

 

Wow, I just heard that it was Ian. I don't even know what to say.

post #17 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdiddy View Post

The slide was in sheep creek?   usually it's pretty thin up above the creek, but I guess usually doesn't mean always.  

 

https://avalanche.state.co.us/acc/acc_report.php?acc_id=505&accfm=rep

post #18 of 90

It's very clear that these individuals were greatly loved by many in our community and similar circles.  Prayers for their families.  So sad that this happened.

post #19 of 90

Yeah, group includes one of the guys who taught my Avy 1 earlier this year. Very humbling, very sad.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

Scary as hell. I immediately (and wrongly) assumed that finally some of the clueless jokers up there got caught, but it wasn't that.  

post #20 of 90

Condolances to WR and all affected by this tragedy.

 

A bit ironic that those who died in an avalanche were doing a fundraiser for

the Colorado Avalanche Center.

 

I once drove west  thru the Eisenhauer tunnel 15 minutes before an avalanche at the

west side of the tunnel closed I-70.  - (on the way to Beaver Creek which had no power).
 

post #21 of 90

Sobering pics from the Denver Post:

http://photos.denverpost.com/2013/04/20/photos-avalanche-kills-5-snowboarders-on-loveland-pass/#3

 

I'm heartbroken for the family and friends.  I'm so sorry for anyone affected by this tragedy.

 

Personally, I'm out.  I'm not even going to think about backcountry skiing anymore.  It's so tempting and easy at places like Loveland and Berthoud passes, but so many people have died who know far more than I ever could about avalanche safety.  

 

A friend wanted to ski Berthoud on Friday and I passed.   I had second thoughts driving by on my way to the Jane.  The snow looked amazing and there were lots of other folks getting the goods.  I absolutely love that terrain.  I had a season pass there for a couple years way back when it was a ski area, and it's some of my favorite skiing anywhere.  For my family's sake, I'll now skip skiing there for the rest of my life.  I'm sorry it took the loss of this many lives for me to realize that.   Rest in peace.

 

post #22 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post

Sobering pics from the Denver Post:

http://photos.denverpost.com/2013/04/20/photos-avalanche-kills-5-snowboarders-on-loveland-pass/#3

 

I'm heartbroken for the family and friends.  I'm so sorry for anyone affected by this tragedy.

 

Personally, I'm out.  I'm not even going to think about backcountry skiing anymore.  It's so tempting and easy at places like Loveland and Berthoud passes, but so many people have died who know far more than I ever could about avalanche safety.  

 

A friend wanted to ski Berthoud on Friday and I passed.   I had second thoughts driving by on my way to the Jane.  The snow looked amazing and there were lots of other folks getting the goods.  I absolutely love that terrain.  I had a season pass there for a couple years way back when it was a ski area, and it's some of my favorite skiing anywhere.  For my family's sake, I'll now skip skiing there for the rest of my life.  I'm sorry it took the loss of this many lives for me to realize that.   Rest in peace.

 

 

I often curse living in a Continental snowpack. 

post #23 of 90
Quote:
"That is an important message right now. You can do a lot of things right but still be caught in a dangerous situation," Brown said.

 

This has me thinking along the lines of tball.

post #24 of 90

It's so very sad.  It sounds like they did everything right.  In the end snow is a more powerful force when moving at speed.  My prayers are with those who lost a loved one and a friend.

post #25 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post

Sobering pics from the Denver Post:

http://photos.denverpost.com/2013/04/20/photos-avalanche-kills-5-snowboarders-on-loveland-pass/#3

 

I'm heartbroken for the family and friends.  I'm so sorry for anyone affected by this tragedy.

 

Personally, I'm out.  I'm not even going to think about backcountry skiing anymore.  It's so tempting and easy at places like Loveland and Berthoud passes, but so many people have died who know far more than I ever could about avalanche safety.  

 

A friend wanted to ski Berthoud on Friday and I passed.   I had second thoughts driving by on my way to the Jane.  The snow looked amazing and there were lots of other folks getting the goods.  I absolutely love that terrain.  I had a season pass there for a couple years way back when it was a ski area, and it's some of my favorite skiing anywhere.  For my family's sake, I'll now skip skiing there for the rest of my life.  I'm sorry it took the loss of this many lives for me to realize that.   Rest in peace.

 

I was thinking along these lines last year after the Steven's Pass Avalanche, but this one seems to hit a little closer to the heart.  Not sure why, but it just cuts deeper. 

 

Whiteroom, so sorry for the loss of your friend. 

post #26 of 90

   The surrounding area usually gets the wind so that snow field has exposed rock along the top and surrounding it, but it holds snow in that pocket.  It drains off into the creek bed, which is like a luge run, steep walls and then empties out in the beginner side of loveland resort.   It's really more of a novelty than anything.   I probably skied it about a half dozen times in 15 years.   Hope everyone is being safe out there ...  one at a time.... 

post #27 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post

Sobering pics from the Denver Post:

http://photos.denverpost.com/2013/04/20/photos-avalanche-kills-5-snowboarders-on-loveland-pass/#3

 

I'm heartbroken for the family and friends.  I'm so sorry for anyone affected by this tragedy.

 

Personally, I'm out.  I'm not even going to think about backcountry skiing anymore.  It's so tempting and easy at places like Loveland and Berthoud passes, but so many people have died who know far more than I ever could about avalanche safety.  

 

A friend wanted to ski Berthoud on Friday and I passed.   I had second thoughts driving by on my way to the Jane.  The snow looked amazing and there were lots of other folks getting the goods.  I absolutely love that terrain.  I had a season pass there for a couple years way back when it was a ski area, and it's some of my favorite skiing anywhere.  For my family's sake, I'll now skip skiing there for the rest of my life.  I'm sorry it took the loss of this many lives for me to realize that.   Rest in peace.

 

Berthoud is amazing,   But the biggest avalanche I ever set off was up top along vasquez cirq.  It gets the snow, that's for sure.... 

post #28 of 90

No exact science.  The best of the best can be caught by surprise.  In the spring even the ground could slide under otherwise perfectly stable snow.  No idea what caused the tragedy, don't care.  But, no blaming the victims other than blaming skiing itself.

post #29 of 90

From all the info I've gathered, they still had skins on, weren't riding this particular aspect, just crossing one at a time, and it set off way above them, funneling down where they were. Extremely crappy luck all the way around, sounds like. The UDOT forecaster was still in skins, too. 

post #30 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

From all the info I've gathered, they still had skins on, weren't riding this particular aspect, just crossing one at a time, and it set off way above them, funneling down where they were. Extremely crappy luck all the way around, sounds like. The UDOT forecaster was still in skins, too. 

 

So the other reports that they triggered it were incorrect?

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