Man dies in avalanche north of Wolf Creek

The death of 39-year-old is sixth slide-related fatality in Colo. this winter

A 39-year-old man died Thursday in an avalanche north of Wolf Creek Ski Area.

The man, whose identity was not released Thursday, lived near Copper Mountain, said Mineral County Sheriff Fred Hosselkus. He was originally from either Australia or New Zealand, he said.

The slide occurred about 12:30 p.m. in an area commonly used by backcountry skiers, Hosselkus said. The area is accessible via the Lobo parking lot near the summit of Wolf Creek Pass on U.S. Highway 160.

Three men were skiing together when the avalanche was triggered, he said.

One man escaped the slide without injury, and another suffered a knee injury and two teeth knocked out, Hosselkus said.

The men did not use Wolf Creek’s ski lifts to access the backcountry, he said.

He described them as experienced backcountry skiers with proper equipment. One of them used a cellphone to report the slide.

Emergency workers had not removed the man from the mountain as of 4:30 p.m.

“We’re going to do what we can to get him out (Thursday), if not we’ll do it in the morning,” he said.

The men took turns going to the bottom.

The first man made it to the bottom, the second man made a couple of turns before triggering the avalanche, and the avalanche cut above the third man at top and sucked him into it, Hosselkus said.

The second man to go down is the one who died, he said.

It is the sixth avalanche-related fatality this winter in Colorado, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Someone was killed earlier this week near Telluride.

Hosselkus reminded backcountry enthusiasts to be aware of snow conditions.

“The avalanche danger is really high right now,” he said.

shane@durangoherald.com

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