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2 killed in separate avalanches Sunday in Colorado amid 'very dangerous' conditions

Avalanche conditions considered to be 'unusual' and 'very dangerous'
Posted at 2:02 PM, Feb 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 10:19:59-05

CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. — Two people were killed in separate avalanches in Colorado Sunday.

A backcountry snowboarder was killed after getting swept up in an avalanche in Clear Creek County. And a man snowmobiling was caught and killed in an avalanche west of Rollins Pass.

The Clear Creek County avalanche occurred around 9:30 a.m. in the area of Mt. Trelease, located north of Interstate 70 near the Loveland Ski area. The avalanche was seen by skiers and I-70 travelers, according to the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office.

Around 11:30 a.m., the body of an adult male was found in the avalanche debris field by members of the Alpine Rescue Team, Loveland Ski Patrol, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) and the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office.

The coroner later identified the snowboarder as 57-year-old David Heide. He was from the Saint Mary’s area of Clear Creek County. Heide was alone when the avalanche occurred, according to the sheriff's office.

The Rollins Pass avalanche occurred on an east-facing, above treeline slope of Mount Epworth. The report came into the Grand County Communications Center around 1:40 p.m. A caller reported his father was buried by the avalanche and was unconscious.

When the avalanche stopped, the snowmobiler was buried underneath his sled on Pumphouse Lake, according to the CAIC. The victim has not been identified, but Grand County Search and Rescue said he was 58 years old and was out with his 18-year-old son.

Avalanche conditions are considered to be "unusual" and "very dangerous" as winter storms move across the mountains, officials said Friday.

The Colorado agency issued a special avalanche advisory Friday, warning that people in the backcountry "can trigger avalanches that may break very widely and run the full length of the avalanche path."

On Saturday, a snowboarder was caught in an avalanche in the East Vail Backcountry. The rider was able to make an air pocket in front of his face and get his AvaLung in his mouth. His partner recovered him in 10 to 15 minutes using a transceiver. He was shaken up, but uninjured, according to the CAIC.

Ethan Greene, director of the CAIC, said this year is Colorado's worst avalanche season in about a decade.