A snowmobiler was killed by an avalanche in the Wolf Creek Pass area on Tuesday afternoon, bringing Colorado’s avalanche-related death toll to 3 for the season. With numerous close calls and feet of snow falling in the past week, the avalanche risk was marked as HIGH for the Southern San Juan at the time of the incident.
The party of four was snowmobiling off the east side of Wolf Creek Pass in the Lost Mine Creek drainage when the avalanche struck. Two of the four snowmobilers in the party were subsequently buried. One of those involved in the avalanche was partially buried and rescued. After the first rescue, the party travelled to acquire cell service. They got a signal at around 6 p.m. and dialed 9-1-1. Wolf Creek Ski Area personnel, locals, and Rio Grand/Mineral County sheriff’s offices assisted in the rescue effort. Initial reports indicated that members of the group were without shovels, which may have prevented a speedy rescue.
The victim hailed from Kimball, South Dakota and has since been identified as 23 year-old, David Smith.
CAIC Avalanche Fatality Report
On February 2, 2016, a group of four snowmobilers departed from the Tucker Ponds trailhead east of Wolf Creek Pass. At approximately 4 PM, the group was snowmobiling in the Lost Mine Creek drainage between Campo Mollino and Park Creek. During the course of their ride, two members of the group were caught in an avalanche. One rider was partially buried and the other was completely buried.
The group left the scene to go for emergency assistance. They obtained cell coverage and placed a call to 911 at approximately 6 PM. Local riders, personnel from the Wolf Creek Ski Area, Mineral and Rio Grand County Sheriff’s Offices, Archuleta County Emergency Management, and Upper San Juan Search and Rescue all participated in the search and rescue effort.
CAIC staff visited the site on February 3rd. We’ll post more information as it become available.
Find up-to-date Colorado Avalanche Advisories Here: Colorado Avalanche Information Center