Monday, December 15, 2008
Vail A skier was caught in a small in-bounds avalanche in Vail Mountain's Blue Sky Basin on Sunday.
The skier was buried to his waist but was unhurt, said Scott Toepfer, of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
The slide occurred Sunday morning on the Lover's Leap trail, which drops from a cornice below the Skyline Express Lift. The avalanche ran for 150 vertical feet, was 100 to 150 feet wide and was about 3 feet deep, Toepfer said.
Vail had reported 12 inches of new snow Sunday, and snow continued to fall on the mountain during the day.
Blue Sky Basin opened for the season Saturday, and patrollers had been conducting avalanche control with explosives there for the last four days, Toepfer said.
"At about 9 a.m., they shot that same slope that failed," he said.
The slide was reported at 10:51 a.m. Vail Mountain closed Blue Sky Basin for the remainder of the day after the slide.
"Vail Ski Patrol will continue to conduct avalanche reduction in the area and throughout Vail Mountain and expects to reopen Blue Sky Basin on Monday, Dec. 15," Vail Resorts said in a statement.
There's always a risk of avalanche on steeper slopes, even if the snow has been compacted by skiers and ski patrol has thrown explosives at it, Toepfer said. Colorado's snowpack also has several weak layers in it now that make it prone to avalanches, he said.
"When I look at this particular incident, what I see is that anything over 30 degrees has the potential to slide, no matter what's been going on in the past," Toepfer said.