avalanche and exposure dangers

A weekend hike along Colorado Hwy 103, the road leading from Evergreen up to Mount Evans, turned deadly when one of the hikers became separated from his partner.  A 44-year-old hiker became lost in Clear Creek County on Saturday was found Sunday morning but later died from the effects of exposure, the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Department said Sunday night.

The hiker was found at 11:45 a.m. by searchers with Clear Creek County Special Services and the Alpine Search and Rescue Team, more than 25 hours after he became lost.

Another death of a 21-year-old student from Colorado Springs occurred in Utah.  The Brigham Young University student was trapped by an avalanche and pushed into a creek in Utah on Saturday evening. 

The avalanche pushed her into a creek, where she was covered by snow for about 20 minutes, and it took another 20 minutes for help to arrive in the remote area about midway between Provo and Park City.  The student was one of six young people who were snowshoeing and tubing in the area, which the Utah Avalanche Center suspects triggered the avalanche.

She was the only one who was caught by the slide, according to the incident report. Because there is no cellphone service in the canyon, one of those in the group had to drive out of the canyon to call 911.

The avalanche descended only about 50 feet into the creek near the reservoir and a parking lot for the popular recreational area at 6,400 feet elevation. About 2 feet of fresh snow was left late last week by the area’s biggest snowstorm of the year, according to the avalanche center.

These outdoor accidents demonstrate how dangerous winter excursions into backcountry can become. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has extended an avalanche warning for most of the Central and Northern Mountains: Heavy snowfall and strong westerly winds over the last 48 hours have created very dangerous avalanche conditions. Natural and human triggered avalanches are likely on all steep slopes today. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.

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