(Last Updated On: December 30, 2008)
The last couple of weeks have been hard on residents of many mountain towns throughout the west. Here in Crested Butte, we lost Mike Bowen to an avalanche. Up in Grand County, 2 unprepared snowmobilers died in an avalanche there. The Denver media has made a hero out of one of the victims, a firefighter, while not once mentioning that nobody in the group had any avalanche gear or training. I guess stories about heroic firefighters are better than ones about educating and preparing oneself before heading out into the backcountry when avalanche danger is rated considerable.
Meanwhile, outside of Fernie in B.C, up to 8 snowmobilers were caught in a second slide as they tried to help victims of a first slide. In Squaw Valley, CA, an inbounds slide resulted in a fatality there. The story was the same in Jackson Hole, where patrollers saw a victim of an inbounds slide and were able to find him (he was wearing a beacon) and dig him out from a depth of a reported 8′ in under 10 minutes. I’ve always felt that the patrol at Jackson was the best around, and that recovery sounds very impressive. Unfortunately, the 31 year old local still didn’t make it. 2 days later, patrol set off a large slide at JH which damaged a mid mountain lodge. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
Today, the mountain manager at Eldora was shot and killed by a gunman who was later shot and killed in a shootout with police. Obviously, this is not the kind of thing one would expect in a quiet mountain town like Eldora/Nederland.
So as we end the year, let’s all hope that the new year brings an end to events like these, and we all get to go back to skiing powder rather than talking about each days’ tragedy.