Report: Deadly Colo. avalanche survivor was stuck in snow for 4 hours
LOVELAND PASS, Colo. —The Colorado Avalanche Information Center released new information on the deadly avalanche that took the lives of five snowboarders who were partaking in an event to raise funds for avalanche awareness on Saturday.
The final report released Wednesday revealed that the sole survivor of the group was buried in the snow for approximately four hours before he was rescued.
The investigation indicated that the group was planning to go down a different slope, and when they made their way towards that area they triggered the avalanche.
The group crossed under a slope, and was reportedly well below the start zone when the avalanche started and swept the snowboarders into a gully. All six snowboarders were buried, but survivor Jerome Boulay was able to clear his airway before waiting for rescuers to arrive.
The Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office released the names of five people killed, which include: Christopher Peters, 32, from Lakewood; Ryan Novack, 33, from Boulder; Joseph Timlin, 32, from Gypsum; Ian Lamphere, 36, from Crested Butte and Rick Gaukel, 33, from Estes Park.
ESPN reported Timlin is an organizer for the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Gathering and also worked as a sales manager for various snowboard brands.
Clear Creek County Sheriff Don Krueger said that Boulay is a Paris native and a sales manager with Venture Snowboards. He moved to Aspen in 1992, according to the company’s website.
The avalanche happened around 1 p.m. on the north-northeast aspect of the Sheep Creek drainage of Loveland Pass. This is near but outside the Loveland Ski Area boundary.
The avalanche was approximately 650 feet wide, 1,150 feet long, and the fracture line was approximately eight feet deep.
All of the snowboarders were wearing proper equipment, including avalanche beacons, deputies said.
According to the Colorado Avalanche Information website, avalanche danger is a level 3 “considerable.”
Teams from the Loveland Ski Patrol, A-Basin Ski Patrol, Alpine Search & Rescue, Summit County Rescue Group, Clear Creek Fire Authority, Clear Creek and Summit County Sheriff’s office all responded to the scene.
The avalanche is the deadliest since 1962 when seven people were killed when a slide buried residents at Twin Lakes near Independence Pass.