2 Killed by Avalanches Over Valentine’s Weekend, Following America’s Deadliest Week of Avalanches in a Century

by Kayla Zadel
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Two men died in separate avalanches in Colorado over Valentine’s Day weekend. This is coming off of a week of deadliest avalanches in the U.S. in a century.

An avalanche on Sunday in the Mount Trelease area took place, killing David Heide, 57, while snowboarding. It’s about 57-miles west of Denver, and he was boarding alone, KCNC reports.

The Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office says that the search and rescue team used the signal from his cellphone to find the man’s location. Heide’s body was found in avalanche debris near a popular backcountry skiing area around 11:40 am.

The second separate avalanche involves another man. He was snowmobiling when an unrelated avalanche occurred in the Corona Pass area near Winter Park on Sunday, according to Grand County Sheriff’s Office.

According to authorities, the man’s son called for help, saying his father was buried by the slide and was unconscious. Additionally, rescuers found his snowmobile in a frozen lake. His body was found in the snow. Rescuers performed life-saving measures. However, they were unable to save the man, pronouncing him dead at the scene.

Furthermore, these men are the 9th and 10th people to be killed by avalanches this winter in Colorado, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The third man was snowboarding near East Vail when a snow slide happened, burying him in about a foot-and-a-half of snow. However, he was able to make an air pocket and breathe in oxygen with a filtration device. The snowboarder’s partner found him within about 10 minutes using a signal from a transceiver.

Officials warn that the snowpack is exceptionally weak this year in the state. As a result, avalanche danger is at an all time high, measuring up to one of the worst seasons on record, 2012.

Deadly Period for Avalanches

Over the course of one week, avalanches have killed more people than over a century, marking a deadly period for winter mountain goers across the country. Those seven days stretch across the first week in February.

At least 15 people died within one week from avalanches. What’s more, the most dangerous time to be in the mountains dates back to 1910.

There have been deaths from several different states including Colorado, Montana, Utah, New Hampshire, California, and Alaska.

National avalanche specialist Simon Trautman believes that weak snowpacks are causing many of these avalanches.

“The accidents are geographically wide-ranging and indicative of a widespread weak snowpack across the US,” he said. “Much of the western US saw very little early season snow and recent snowstorms are overloading this older, weaker snow and leading to elevated avalanche danger.”

Outsider.com