Sunday, April 21, 2013
5 "back country experts" yesterday on Loveland Pass in Colorado. Estimates are that the slide took place at roughly 1pm in the afternoon. Early reports say that the victims, along with one who survived, were heading up hill to ride some low gradient terrain. They were skinning up the bottom of a gully surrounded by steeper terrain. There are other experts who say they were doing everything correct to avoid danger. The previous week had severe south easterly winds with heavy snow in this area which placed exceptionally heavy loads on a shit base layer that has been there since early winter. I had spent parts of three days in this area the previous week and witnessed many naturally released slides, to the ground in this area. These slides were in plain sight of the highway which crests Loveland Pass known as Highway 6. They were there for any person to observe and see what extreme issues there were in the back country surrounding the area. These six people clearly ignored all of these signs, entered incredibly unstable terrain, were all clearly together in a bunch in a poor choice of route, and had no way out should there be a problem.
About ten minutes prior to this event taking place, I was leaving Arapahoe Basin with my girlfriend heading back to Denver over Loveland Pass. As we left Arapahoe I noticed what appeared to be a solo skier or snowboarder at the top of the Little Professor which is directly across the highway and to the north of Arapahoe Basin ski area. We were on our way up the pass next to the highway department building by the upper lot and I pulled over and said to my girlfriend, "you want to see this guy die?" We sat there for a minute and realized this person was gearing up or taking a break and the crown of the bowl and would be a while so we drove on. Coming over the top of the pass I could not believe some of the skier and snowboard tracks I was looking at on top of the pass. Solo tracks right down the fucking middle of many of the classic slide zones on the divide on the north side of the pass. This was just about 1:10pm in the afternoon. As we came down the pass towards I-70 there were some CDOT vehicles up there looking inside a pick up truck that was parked at the switchback the leads into the Sheep Creek drainage. Alot of people were lucky on the pass that day, five were not.
The mountains always win people. The mountains don't give a crap what your intentions are. You can make all the good decisions you want, if you make one bad one, the mountain wins, every time.