In a paradoxical accident on Saturday, a Colorado backcountry skier participating in an avalanche course in the state's Upper Senator Beck Basin was killed by a slide.
According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, all six skiers participating in the course were hit by the slide during training. The first slide also released snow on an adjacent slope creating a second avalanche at an elevation of about 13,000 feet in the southwest corner of the state. The skiers were descending the slope when the first slide released.
"The second avalanche ran over the debris pile of the first slide," according to the center's report. "One member of the group was buried in the debris of the two avalanches. The rest of the group located him and extricated him from under at least 2.5 meters (more than 8 feet) of snow. They tried to revive him on site, but were unsuccessful."
The Durango Herald identified the skier as 40-year-old Peter Marshall, of Longmont, Colorado. He was the state's first avalanche fatality this winter, according to the center.
"The skiers were participating in a three-day Level 2 avalanche class for 'advanced recreational students' who already have completed previous safety classes, according to the school’s website," the Denver Post reported.
So far this winter, three people have been killed in avalanches. Two were snowmobilers, including a 35-year-old Choteau man killed on Saturday while riding along the Rocky Mountain Front. He was not wearing an avalanche beacon. The other snowmobiler was killed while riding in the Wyoming Range on Dec. 22.
Last year, 24 people were killed in avalanches in the United States, four in Montana and three in Wyoming. Eleven of the 24 who died were snowmobilers.
New this year for southwestern Montana backcountry winter recreationists the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center has expanded its forecasts to the Centennial Range on the Idaho and Montana border in response to the two avalanche fatalities last winter.
"These mountains have many similarities to the Lionhead area (near West Yellowstone) and this page allows us to share information with skiers and riders," said the center's director, Doug Chabot, in an email.