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Backcountry skier killed in avalanche near Crested Butte identified

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Avalanche skier death February 11, 2024.jpeg
Posted at 12:00 PM, Feb 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-18 19:29:14-05

GUNNISON COUNTY, Colo. — A backcountry skier who was killed in an avalanche on Sunday was identified.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) said Eric Freson, 36, a resident of Gunnison, was on the Anthracite Range near the town of Crested Butte when he was caught in an avalanche around 1 p.m. Sunday.

The skier's partners were able to find him and get him out of the snow, but he died from injuries he got during the avalanche.

According CAIC's preliminary report, Freson was caught up in a small avalanche, pulled his airbag but was then carried into a larger avalanche.

"He pulled his airbag and was carried over the cliff. Below the cliff a deeper and much broader avalanche released. It broke on a layer of buried surface hoar two to three feet deep," the report read. "The combined flow of debris from both avalanches carried the skier through trees and completely buried him on the slope below."

A GoFundMe online fundraiser has been created to help Freson's family.

In a social media post, the CAIC said 11 people were caught in avalanches so far in Colorado in February and a moderate avalanche danger persists for most of Colorado.

A moderate avalanche danger means human-triggered avalanches are more likely where snowpack is shallow and natural avalanches are less likely, according to the CAIC.

A full report on the fatal avalanche was released Sunday and can be read here. The CAIC accident summary are as follows:

"The avalanche broke approximately 30 feet above Skier 3 and quickly swept him off his feet. The group below watched as Skier 3 deployed his airbag and was swept over the cliff band and onto the broad, open slope below. The initial avalanche triggered a second, larger avalanche on the open slope. This second avalanche added substantial volume to the flowing debris. He went out of view of the group.

The avalanche ran into trees below the open slope, taking Skier 3 for a violent ride. The impact ripped the airbag from his body. Skier 3 came to rest, fully buried about 500 vertical feet below where he triggered the initial avalanche."

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