The second avalanche death in two years in Dutch Draw, and at least the fourth in total, has spurred an Avalanche Risk Discussion.
The victim and his girlfriend exited the backcountry access gate atop the Ninety-Nine 90 Express. Then they hiked up the ridge before dropping in to snowboard down a run called Conehead. The victim went first, and when he was about halfway down his girlfriend followed. Then an avalanche occurred. The woman was not caught in the slide.
Some people have argued more should be done to warn skiers who may be unaware of the dangers posed by backcountry terrain. They could put resort personnel near the gate to inform people of the risk. Or require checking out with ski patrol and carrying an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. A check-out procedure is used at some other resorts.
An avalanche survivor is talking about being buried by snow to encourage others to be safe while in the mountains. A year ago he had a life changing experience. He and some friends were snowboarding at Steamboat Resort when an avalanche was triggered above them.
Miraculously, he says his friends found him just as ski patrol was arriving. “I guess my buddies were saying they took my arm out and it just flopped and I was just blue.” He was taken to a hospital and was not injured.
He wants people to know that enjoying the mountains is still a good thing. Just make sure you go with people who have avalanche training.