Detailed Accident Report

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Date: 2000-02-23
Submitted By: Lanny Grant Colorado Snowmobile Assoc.
Place: Blair Mtn. NW of Glenwood Springs
State: CO
Country: USA
Summary: 1 snowmobiler caught, buried. Revived by friends

CAIC: Preliminary report

This is the information that I have as of now after interviews and having visited the accident scene this morning. Yesterday (2/23) at approx. 14:00 hrs.a significant avalanche accident

occurred involving snowmobilers highmarking on Blair Mtn. (Flattops-. northwest of Glenwood Spgs.) I received information regarding this incident from several snowmobilers that arrived at the scene shortly after it occurred. At this time I do not have the names of the individuals involved but do know that they were from the Edwards, Colorado area.

The four snowmobilers involved were apparently highmarking on a popular slope west of Elk Lakes on an eastern aspect of Blair Mtn. One rider stuck his machine about two-thirds of the way up and was attempting to free it when another rider climbed the

hill, traversing the slope above him. A significant avalanche was

released by this second machine which engulfed the first rider, carrying him and his snowmobile downslope and burying him. The slide was approximately 100 yards wide by 150 yards long. The other members of this group located the victim's hand protruding from the snow near the lower left flank of the slide and dug him out. The victim was buried approx. 2'-3' deep, face up. When uncovered the victim was unconcious and not breathing; but was

successfully revived.

I attempted to reach the crown of this slide to gather data but was unable to do so due to adverse weather and poor visibility at the scene. This slide fractured at an average depth of about 30" on a distinctive hard ice crust. This crust was so slick that I was unable to stand up on it when traversing the bed surface with cleated snowshoes. This bed surface covered another 3'-4' of snowpack that did not not slide. I would rate this slide as a hard slab on an average slope angle of 29 degrees to 36 degrees and a size 3. I believe that this buried ice crust is prevalent

along the eastern aspect of this area and may result in similar

incidents. High winds and blowing snow hampered investigative efforts today. At the time of this accident weather conditions were partly cloudy and calm.

Another interesting bit of information: One of the individuals at the scene at the time of the accident said that he recorded the entire incident on videotape. This of course we would like to view if we can find the individuals involved.

Another avalanche accident occurred last Saturday (2/19) at the Cliff Lakes overlook. Three or four snowmobilers descended the steep northeast slope, releasing an avalanche that buried one of the machines to the windshield. It is unknown if any rider was buried in this incident.

Lanny Grant

Safety Director

Colorado Snowmobile Association