Thank you to Spencer Logan and The Colorado Avalanche Information Center for breaking down the events and conditions that lead to an avalanche fatality in Maroon Bowl. The accident was tragic but its important we learn from it and use it better understand backcountry safety. The following is the CAIC incident report:
2018/04/08 – Colorado – Maroon Bowl, west of Aspen Highlands:
Published 2018/04/10 by Spencer Logan – Forecaster, CAIC
Two skiers exited Aspen Highlands Ski Resort through a backcountry access gate. They were using climbing skins to ascend through an area known as “Maroon Bowl.” Both skiers were caught in an avalanche. One was killed.
The avalanche failed on a steep, concave slope above a rock outcrop; the debris ran to either side of the outcrop. The skier’s right lobe ran down an open slope with small trees at the bottom. The skier’s left lobe caught the riders ran down an open slope, and then over a rollover steeper than 40 degrees with scattered small and large trees below.
Figure 1: Upper Maroon Bowl. Several avalanches near the orange 1 were triggered by Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol on the morning of April 8. The skiers descended along the blue dots, and began ascending the slopes far below the orange 2. The avalanche labeled with the orange 2 is the site of the fatal accident.
Figure 2: Maroon Bowl on April 8. The avalanche in the left portion of the image was triggered with explosives. The avalanche on the right, indicated by the red arrow, is the accident site.
- Location: Maroon Bowl, west of Aspen Highlands
- State: Colorado
- Date: 2018/04/08
- Time: 12:00 AM
- Summary Description: 2 sidecountry riders caught, partially buried, 1 killed
- Primary Activity: Sidecountry Rider
- Primary Travel Mode: Ski
- Type: SS
- Trigger: AS – Skier
- Trigger (subcode): r – A remote avalanche released by the indicated trigger
- Size – Relative to Path: R2
- Size – Destructive Force: D2
- Sliding Surface: O – Within Old Snow
- Caught: 2
- Fully Buried: 0
- Injured: 0
- Killed: 1
- Slope Aspect: N
- Site Elevation: 11375 ft
- Slope Angle: 38 °
- Slope Characteristic: Concave Slope