Skier killed in another East Vail avalanche
VAIL – A local skier died in an avalanche in the East Vail Chutes on Saturday morning, according to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.The name of the man was not released Saturday pending notification of his family.Two men, both local residents, were involved in the accident, said Shannon Cordingly, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office.They were skiing by the King Tut and Old Man’s Chutes at about 11 a.m. when the avalanche happened. That area is just east of where another avalanche killed snowboarder Jesse Brigham on Jan. 4.Both men were buried in the slide, but one was able to free himself. The surviving skier told authorities he had been buried for about an hour before he was able to dig himself out and call 911, Cordingly said.Vail Mountain Rescue and Vail Ski Patrol responded and found the skier who called for help. The Vail Public Safety Communications Center was able to pinpoint latitude and longitude coordinates from the 911 call. Both skiers were wearing avalanche beacons.The other man was buried for at least four hours before rescuers located him.He was pronounced dead shortly afterward, the Sheriff’s Office said.The East Vail Chutes are a backcountry skiing area that are not part of Vail Ski Resort. However, skiers get to the chutes via a gate by the Mongolia lift, a surface lift above Mongolia Bowl in Vail’s Back Bowls.
Avalanche danger in most of the Vail Summit Zone at all elevations was “considerable” Saturday, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.Human-triggered avalanches were “probable,” and natural avalanches were “possible,” said avalanche forecaster Spencer Logan.New snow and strong winds create “wind slabs,” or weak layers in the snow. The conditions have been ripe for avalanches, Logan said.”Everyone in the avalanche business has been expecting this. It makes us all nervous,” he said.There were many “close calls” over the past two weeks, with avalanches reported every day, Logan said.At least 18 people have been caught in avalanches in Colorado, and two have been killed since Dec. 30, the center reported.”This was probably not a good day to be in the place they were in,” Logan said. “There’s good snow out there, and people want to enjoy it, but it seems people are taking some risks or cutting it too close.”Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or email@example.com.
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