Snowboarder caught in avalanche on Loveland Pass
Denver man buried up to waist Tuesday
December 16, 2009
A Denver snowboarder was able to ride and swim his way out of a large avalanche on Loveland Pass around noon Tuesday.
Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office Major Rick Albers said Alec Meyer caused the avalanche and "it broke on him." Meyer rode it almost to the bottom, but when the avalanche started to flatten out, he started to sink. Meyer used a swimming motion to keep himself on top of the slide, and he was only buried to his mid-section. His girlfriend saw the accident, skied down and helped free him. No one was injured.
The incident occurred on Loveland Ridge, located near the top of Loveland Pass, near the Eisenhower Tunnel.
According to Albers, neither Meyer nor his girlfriend had shovels or beacons. No other skiers or snowboarders were involved in the accident.
Matt Scheer, of Breckenridge, was hiking in the area on his lunch break when he saw the remnants of the slide and took some photos.
"Nobody was conducting a rescue search when I was up there," Sheer said. "I just happened to be in the right place at the right time with my camera."
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According to Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster John Snook, there's currently a high risk for snow slides in Summit County and surrounding areas near and above treeline on north, northeast, east and southeast slopes. He also noted that wind conditions can increase the hazard for an avalanche on slopes that face certain directions.
"You really need to practice safe backcountry travel," Snook said. "Right now, I'd be staying on slopes that are less than 30 degrees in steepness. The Loveland Ridge situation — that was definitely a situation where the slope was greater than 30 degrees, and the aspect was easterly. So that falls into the high avalanche risk" category.
The Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office has seen quite a few avalanches in the Loveland area so far this season — "many of which were probably not reported," Albers said.