A backcountry skier was killed in an avalanche Saturday in an area near Berthoud Pass, according to Grand County Search and Rescue.
The incident happened around 3 p.m. in the First Creek Drainage of Berthoud Pass. Known locally as Chimney Chute, the area is a steep, narrow, northeast-facing below-treeline slope.
The solo skier was reported overdue by family members who were able to give the rescue team a specific last-seen point, according to a statement from Grand County Search and Rescue.
The searchers found a recent avalanche and searched the area, first finding a pair of ski goggles and then finding the missing skier by using an avalanche probe. He was completely buried and did not survive, according to the rescue team and Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
The skier was not wearing an avalanche transceiver, the rescue team said.
The skier is the fourth person to die in Colorado avalanches in the last two weeks, according to the CAIC — nearing the total six people killed in the entire 2019-2020 season, from November through May.
On Dec. 18, a backcountry skier was killed in an avalanche near Crested Butte, and two backcountry skiers were killed the next day in an avalanche near Silverton.
Colorado’s backcountry has seen increased use this year because of novel coronavirus precautions and restrictions at ski resorts. Backcountry outfitters saw a huge spike in demand this spring, and this fall expected backcountry gear to sell out quickly. Some worried that the new visitors to the backcountry would be inexperienced an unprepared to deal with avalanche danger.
The region has also seen dangerous avalanche conditions this month. On Sunday, the CAIC rated the avalanche danger as considerable across much of the eastern mountain ranges, and as moderate in areas farther west.
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