Category Archive:avalanche education

The family of Peter Marshall, who was killed in an avalanche during an AIARE advanced avalanche safety class with the Silverton Avalanche School, has dropped the school and teacher from their lawsuit. It appears that a settlement was reached. A complaint remains open against Backcountry Access, their owner K2 Sports, and K2 owner Kohlberg & Company.

Last month the family dropped its claims against the county, school and guide. Attorneys for the Marshall family have not returned calls or responded to emails and representatives from the county and school declined to comment, indicating a settlement amount was most likely agreed upon.

The family had argued that the school and guide had misled Marshall into taking the class by “falsely presenting” that school staff “possessed deep operational experience in avalanche terrain.” The family also claimed the school and guide displayed “gross negligence.”

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) report pointed to several mistakes during the advanced class, including a group of skiers gathered on a slope steep enough to slide, those skiers misjudging the steepness of that slope and a failure to recognize clear avalanche hazards. The guide triggered the first avalanche, which swept the whole group down the slope. A second avalanche buried Marshall under several feet of snow.

The family of the 40-year-old Longmont skier is still suing K2 Sports and its subsidiary Backcountry Access, which makes an air bag backpack that was not deployed when rescuers found Marshall buried in more than 8 feet of avalanche debris. “Peter Marshall attempted to trigger his Float 32 avalanche air bag system but it did not fully deploy or inflate,” according to the complaint filed in Boulder District Court.

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A skier was killed in an avalanche Saturday, December 11, in Silver Basin, a closed area of Crystal Mountain, Washington, that ski patrol had not mitigated for avalanche hazard. Six skiers from the same party were caught in the slide. Four skiers were partially or fully buried, three of whom were successfully recovered. The fourth skier was found unconscious and did not respond to resuscitation efforts. All skiers involved were carrying avalanche equipment and several had taken a recent avalanche course.

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A volunteer ski patroller started an "Are You Beeping?" project to help save lives in the Cascade mountains.

Waller's project “Are You Beeping?” installs avalanche beacon test sites and signage at resort gates and forest trailheads before users enter risky terrain. It's a chance for explorers to turn on their avalanche beacons. The signs also include information about avoiding risky terrain and unstable snow conditions.

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Maurice Kervin has spent 65 days snowboarding so far this season. Friday is a day he won't forget. On that day the snowboarder was caught in an avalanche.

Kervin had recently completed a Level 1 safety course through the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE). Despite that, he did not avoid the recognized risk.

"I remember telling my buddy 'I don’t know man. I’m kind of nervous about this run, and if it goes it’s probably going to go big,'" said Kervin.

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Silverton Avalanche School is the beneficiary of the second annual Know the Snow Rando Race. The race at Purgatory raises money for the Know the Snow Fund.

In 2020, the race raised more than $10,000 and provided 19 scholarships for skiers to attend avalanche education courses with Silverton Avalanche School.

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Silverton Avalanche School Avalanche

Peter Marshall died in an avalanche during an avalanche safety class near Red Mountain Pass in 2019. In an avalanche lawsuit his family names the school, the guide, and Backcountry Access.

The slide swept six skiers down a slope. All of them were part of a Level 2 American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) class. Which was offered by the Silverton Avalanche School.

The family is suing the guide, school and local rescue group. And also the maker of an avalanche airbag and its private equity firm owner. This lawsuit marks the second recent legal action involving avalanches based on reports by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

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“We have a block of harder snow over a section of weak sugary facets of the ground, so we have something over nothing," said Dave Zinn, avalanche expert. "This is the recipe for an avalanche, all you need now is a steep slope and a trigger.”

“Really watch out for those signs of instability -- like shooting cracks. Do some avalanche testing - dig stability tests, do an extended column test, see if you get stable results," said Zinn. "And if you don't see (stable results), find a different slope."

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A new avalanche beacon training park outside Minturn, Colorado gives the public an accessible opportunity to practice using avalanche transceivers. Beacons are a critical piece of safety equipment for winter backcountry recreation.

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Nearly 40% of the people caught in an avalanche last season had taken a traditional style formal Level 1 avalanche class. About 70% had intermediate or advanced avalanche training. This mirrors previous research.

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