Colorado officials recently announced that a 19-year-old triggered an avalanche on Saturday. According to Grand County Search and Rescue officials, the Indiana hiker was near Colorado Mines Peak at the time of the avalanche.
Before the incident, he was hiking on the Mount Flora trail. Then, he made his disastrous mistake when he went off-trail and into a region with deep snow.
“He triggered an avalanche and was caught and carried at least 40 feet,” officials said. “He then hiked downhill towards the highway. Just before 4 p.m., he finally realized he wasn’t going to be able to make it to the highway and called for help.”
Later, crews from Grand County Search and Rescue went to the scene. They found the hiker at around 6 p.m. Once he was located, the rescue crew gave him snowshoes, and he could hike out without assistance. Now, Colorado officials are reminding people of avalanche safety to keep incidents like these from happening.
“We would like to remind our readers that avalanche awareness and safety is not only for skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers. Hikers and snowshoers are also susceptible to being caught, injured or killed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And we’ll say it again – being prepared with emergency gear and extra clothing could save your life in the event of a backcountry emergency,” the rescue teams said via Facebook.
Expert weighs in on how to protect yourself from avalanches
They also remind outdoors enthusiasts to check out the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website and weather forecasts before going into the backcountry.
In addition to hikers, skiers must also stay vigilant when outside this time of year. While skiing on fresh powder is ideal, it also comes with risks. As snow falls, the likelihood of an avalanche increases. According to avalanche experts, you can protect yourself by carrying one essential tool.
“When we talk about safety equipment, this beacon is what we’re talking about,” said Doug Chabot, the director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center in Bozeman, Montana.
According to Chabot, knowing what to do in case of an avalanche is vital. However, the first thing he recommends is reasonably simple: never go by yourself.
“Your partner is the one who’s going to save you if you get completely buried,” said Chabot. “If you don’t have a partner and you’re completely buried, you’ll die.”
In addition, he also says that if you find yourself submerged in snow, make swimming moves. You can also try to make an air pocket around your mouth. You should use your beacon if you can’t stick a hand out of the snow.
“With the beacon, you’re transmitting a pulse, and your partner turns theirs on to receive it,” he said about the necessary tool. “They can listen and the closer they get to you the louder it becomes.”