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Summit County Rescue Group shares warning about backcountry after deadly avalanche season

Posted at 5:37 AM, Jan 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-13 13:03:02-05

FRISCO, Colo. — This avalanche season in Colorado has been a deadly one in the backcountry.

On New Years Eve, the Summit County Rescue Group assisted the Breckenridge Ski Patrol in responding to a deadly avalanche. They are hoping that will be their last.

They have a serious warning for anyone heading out into the backcountry.

"People tend to think that if they're going through an access point from a ski area, then it must be OK. It must be safe. Well, it's not," said Anna DeBattiste with Summit County Rescue Group. "That's an area where there's no avalanche control work. There's no ski patrol services. And if avalanche danger is pretty high, then you're taking a big risk."

Summit County Rescue Group shares warning about avalanches

There are several things experts encourage for anyone heading into the backcountry.

"You need to have a level one avalanche course. You need to get the gear: transceiver, shovel and probe at minimum. And you need to get the forecast. Colorado Avalanche Information Center has a daily forecast that is very informative and gives good travel advice," said Aaron Parmet, an EMT with Summit County Rescue Group.

Even when you're just out on the trails, it's important to be prepared.

Holly Bolesky knows this firsthand. She and her service dog got stuck on a hike near Silverthorne a few years back while snowshoeing.

"The snow was so deep, and it was so fluffy that there wasn't a good way to get up in elevation. I kept trying and it kept getting worse and worse," Bolesky said.

After she called 911 and gave search crews her coordinates, she and her dog sat in the snow and waited it out.

"They were excited that I was able to call and give them my location and that I didn't move again," Bolesky said. "They were like, 'You are literally exactly where we pinned you.' I was like, 'Well, yeah I knew I was lost and I wanted you to find me!'"

Rescue crews said whether you're on the slopes or on the trails, if you think you might need help, just call.

"We want you to call sooner rather than later," DeBattiste said. "We'd rather come get you when the sun is still out than after dark when maybe it's subzero temperatures, maybe it's snowing, maybe your injuries have worsened. Nope, nope. Nobody wants that. It's more dangerous for you and it's more dangerous for the rescuers."

If you're interested in learning more about avalanche awareness, Summit County Rescue Group and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center are ready to help. A few members of the rescue group will be available to help people with their transceiver search skills on Jan. 14 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at their training grounds at the Frisco Adventure Park.