The danger posed by avalanches is tragically demonstrated by a recent death of a highly experienced skier and avalanche technician. Colin Sutton, Wolf Creek ski area avalanche technician and senior patroller, died March 4th after being caught in an avalanche on Conejos Peak in the San Juan Mountains. Sutton, 38, died while conducting exploration and snow science research via helicopter just outside Wolf Creek Ski Resort. Wolf Creek has been working on a development plan for helicopter skiing with the San Juan National Forest, which granted permission to explore adjacent terrain.
A group of six skiers was on the mountain at the time of the avalanche, with a two-passenger helicopter in the air. He was transported to Mercy Regional Hospital in Durango, where he was pronounced dead.
Sutton was a full-time ski patroller at Wolf Creek for 12 years, according to a press release sent by the ski resort. He was trained in basic life support, CPR and was an outdoor emergency-care provider. He was a certified emergency medical technician, a Level III avalanche technician, and a state of Colorado Type I explosives permit possessor and the snow science director for Wolf Creek. Sutton also was a Colorado Rapid Avalanche deployment-qualified dog handler with his black Labrador, Boca.