Avalanche at Loveland Pass 2013

LOVELAND PASS, CO- APRIL 21, 2013: Scott Toepfer on the Right Photo By Helen H. Richardson/ The Denver Post)

A Loveland Pass Avalanche has claimed the lives of  5 experienced backcountry enthusiasts. One snowboarder survived after being found almost 2 1/2 hours later with his head sticking above the snow according to first-hand reports.

Rocky Mountain High Backountry Gathering

The splitboarders and skiers were all at Loveland Pass to take place in the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Gathering when they were caught in a slide that had an 8-foot crown.

Loveland Pass Fatal Avalanche Deaths

It is unclear if the avalanche was triggered by the group from below as they traversed across a snowfield or if it was a natural release. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center had issued a considerable warning for traveling in the backcountry today that read:

Colorado Avalanche Information Center Warning

“The most recent deep persistent slab avalanches occurred on Thursday in the Vail-Summit Zone, with natural avalanches in Straight Creek (west of the Eisenhower Tunnel) and the fatal avalanche near Vail Pass. In many of the avalanches throughout the winter, the culprit weak layers were small facets above a thin crust, on top of depth hoar. Slopes, where these layers remain weakest, are north through east aspects near and above treeline. The slab above the weak layer may be very hard (P or K) and strong. The strong slab and stubborn, unlikely triggering, give the slopes a false sense of strength. Likely trigger points are where the slab is thin, like shallow rocky areas or along the margins or bottom of the slab. If you find the wrong spot, the resulting avalanche will be very large, destructive, and dangerous. Conservative and cautious route finding and terrain selection are the best ways to avoid the problem.”

Loveland Pass Fatal Avalanche Deaths

One of the victims was a respected backcountry guide, another a local snowboard representative.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to all the victims, their friends and families and to all the search and rescue personnel that were involved in the rescue. Today was a tragic day for the snowboard community and backcountry tribe as a whole, let’s not forget about these mountain men!

Loveland Pass Fatal Avalanche Deaths

For the latest Colorado weather and avalanche forecast, please visit: https://avalanche.state.co.us/

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About the Author

Mike Hardaker
Mike Hardaker grew up surfing and snowboarding in Orange County and followed his love of surfing to Hawaii before eventually moving to the mountains to concentrate on snowboarding. He went on to found Mountain Weekly News where he is still CEO and Editor in Chief.

5 Comments on "Avalanche at Loveland Pass 2013"

  1. Thanks for putting this story together.

  2. Sorry to hear that you knew these folks Mike, condolences. Please be smart out there people.

    • Mike Hardaker | April 20, 2013 at 11:33 PM | Reply

      Swanny appreciate the support as always, hopefully Alpine Quest can do some avi classes next year out of the Vail store.

  3. Thanks for the most intelligent post I’ve seen on this all afternoon….this is sickening and its been a nightmare week all over CO. Prayers for the families of our friends.

    • Mike Hardaker | April 20, 2013 at 11:32 PM | Reply

      Gags, I just saw the photos from the Denver post and got sick to my stomach. What a horrible week for snow lovers in Colorado.

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