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Photos: Two dead, three hurt after Star Mountain avalanche in slide-warning zone

avalanche.february.15.8.205x205.jpg
Big photos, video below.
Last week, we noted that six people had died in western-state avalanches since February 8, with Governor John Hickenlooper issuing a statement that highlighted the danger of additional slides.

Unfortunately, a group of skiers in Lake County didn't heed these warnings. Seven of them ventured into an area that was part of a weekend avalanche advisory -- and now two of them are dead and three hurt. Photos, video and details of the latest tragedy below.

The photos and accompanying captions seen in this post are shared on behalf of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which has created this map denoting current avalanche threats in the state:

Supplementing these graphics is an avalanche watch/warning through 5 p.m. today for Steamboat and Flat Tops, the; Front Range, Vail & Summit County, the Sawatch Range, Aspen and Gunnison. It reads:

Backcountry avalanche conditions are very dangerous this weekend. We are in the midst of an historic avalanche cycle. Destructive natural avalanches are possible on isolated slopes and human-triggered avalanches are likely on all steep slopes. You can't rely on standard safe routes and travel practices to keep you out of trouble. Travel in avalanche terrain, including backcountry terrain accessed from ski areas, is not recommended this weekend.
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Courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center
"Looking up the avalanche debris."
Nonetheless, the aforementioned cross-country skiers ventured into one of the areas encompassed by the advisory: Star Mountain, near Twin Lakes in Lake County, not far from Leadville.

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Courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center
"A view of the crown."
Specifically, the group headed to the east side of Independence Pass. But late Saturday afternoon, February 15, one or more of them triggered an avalanche that was soon supplemented by a second slide.

According to CBS4, two of the skiers were uninjured, because they were above both avalanches.

But the other five were in the path of the massive slide. The preliminary CAIC report says that none of them were fully buried, which may account for the survival of three, all of whom were hospitalized at last report.

But two of their friends couldn't be saved.

avalanche.february.15.3.jpg
Courtesy Colorado Avalanche Information Center
"View of the crown."
Thus far, the victims of the avalanche have not been identified. But their passings have already been noted by the CAIC, which points out that eight people have now died in western-state avalanches over a span of just eight days -- four of them in Colorado, with a fifth person from the state, Colorado Springs resident Ashleigh Cox, perishing in a slide in Utah.

Our sincere condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of all the victims.

Continue for more Colorado Avalanche Information Center photos of the latest avalanche, followed by a video from the scene.



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22 comments
Nick DiCarlo
Nick DiCarlo

I guarantee these people knew EXACTLY what they were getting into and how big the risk. Their choice. And they took the necessary precaution by wearing avalanche gear. Who are you to say they can't do it if they are willing to take the risk.

George White
George White

Yes, there's something that can be done: don't sell skis to idiots who can't read and heed avalanche warnings.

Scott McMahon
Scott McMahon

Callous report and comments. Yeah armchair they messed up..but these are loved ones. "The fearful are caught as often as the bold". Make good decisions friends and be safe out there

Jay Baca
Jay Baca

Is it a tragedy when you understand going in that you have a very strong possibility of dying when you do this. I'm willing to gamble that these folks all were aware of that. Don't walk the tight wire without a net if you are not an expert yet. Daredevils live by a code of ethics- the ones that live longer than most practice those codes. I personally am not going to feel sorry for someone who plays Russian roulette with their life. I do however feel sorry for their family.

Brian Mosbey
Brian Mosbey

It's rough trying to be sympathetic to people who believe that rules do not apply to them. We hear about people skiing out of bounds every year and this always seems to happen. So I really don't care for people complaining about it. If you ski, know where to ski and stay out of the back country dangerous areas- simple. It's like people who complain about forest fires. Don't live in the forests in Colorado, or don't complain when the fire comes. Or AT LEAST clean up your slash and clear the land around your house. These things will always happen in nature, but it's your duty to keep yourself safe.

Erin Maguire Pettitt
Erin Maguire Pettitt

Um, maybe not go back country skiing? Um, am I the only one who thinks that's sort of a "duh"?

christof1
christof1

Going into exposures with sketchy conditions is like jumping into shark infested waters covered in blood; Risky! Those who go into gnarly areas in search of the ultimate pow should be aware of the consequences. Mother Nature always has the upper hand. I count my blessings so far.

Justin Day
Justin Day

Besides all the pointless comments on here regarding people dying....Beacons and knowing terrain can only help but nothing is 100 percent with avalanches. I've missed two since I've moved out here 4 years ago.

Jen Ant
Jen Ant

Sit in the lodge, with your feet up, by a fire. Nothing ever happens to those guys.

Kev Markis
Kev Markis

Just go skiing downtown, where there are almost no avalanches.

Jessica Fenske
Jessica Fenske

Nah just let them do it. Maybe they can get a type of insurance to pay for the search and rescue.

Brian Smith
Brian Smith

To me these people are no different than junkies. Willing to risk their lives and cause their families enormous suffering so that they can get another hit. People need to realize there are other way to get the pleasure out of life that are much longer lasting than a five min decent.

Ben Cochran
Ben Cochran

No...there is nothing that can or should be done..we as Americans have the right to do dumb things like ski where there are clear warnings saying "don't ski here, avalanche warning". If these folks want to ski where they shouldn't and take their own lives in their hands then it's their right to do so. We CAN NOT continue trying to legislate stupidity! We have the right to live or die as we so choose!

Brian Smith
Brian Smith

But I bet they got some sick pow turns brah.

Sean Dolan
Sean Dolan

Yeah....take heed of the warnings and conditions

Randy Hays
Randy Hays

Let's legislate something. It will make us feel good and take away personal choice and responsibility which is overrated anyway.

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