Talk about something to be thankful for…
On Wednesday, brothers Alex (27) and Brian (26) Holmes left Trout Lake bound for Ophir when their ski tour went horribly wrong. While descending in the Fatwa zone of Waterfall Canyon, the youngest brother, Brian Holmes triggered the first of what would be two avalanches for the pair of brothers.
The slide carried Brian approximately 1,000 ft down the slope before burying him with his face and one arm free of snow. It took Brian 15 minutes to dig himself out of the debris.
“Given the circumstances and nature of the slide, this skier is extremely fortunate.”– Sheriff’s Deputy Todd Rector
Meanwhile, Brian’s older brother Alex self arrested during the first slide, only to set off a second slide shortly after. At that point, Alex determined the conditions to be too volatile to proceed and he returned to Trout Lake to call search and rescue. Alex believed that his brother Brian was dead.
However, Brian was anything but and after spending an hour searching for his brother, Brian eventually skied to the town of Ophir, also thinking his brother had passed away. Once in Ophir, Sheriff’s deputies became aware of Brian’s whereabouts and the search was called off.
Both brothers are alive and recovering from the incident.
“The San Juans in general can represent some of the most tenuous snow conditions on the continent,”- Sheriff’s Deputy Todd Rector.
CAIC Avalanche Report
On Wednesday, skiers triggered two slides on north-facing terrain above treeline. The first avalanche broke above a pair of skiers as they began descending a couloir or gully. The avalanche caught both. One skier was flushed down the couloir and partially buried with head and arm out. That skier self-rescued. The other skier self-arrested after only a short ride, but remotely triggered another avalanche as they descended to begin companion rescue. On 11/22, mitigation work triggered large Persistent Slab avalanches on northwest and northeast aspects near treeline.
Stay up to date on Avlanache Conditions via the CAIC Website: avalanche.state.co.us