The body of a backcountry skier who died in an avalanche Sunday afternoon was recovered Monday in the Raspberry Creek area south of the town of Marble in the Raggeds Wilderness Area. It was this season’s second avalanche death in Colorado.
“The reporting party consisted of two males who declared that they had survived the slide but stated that there was a 37-year-old male who had not,” a Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office statement read, according to CBS Denver. “They stated that they were able to locate their companion and dig him out of the compacted snow but that he was deceased.”
The victim was identified as James Lindenblatt, 37, of Marble.
The incident brings to the forefront the dangers of backcountry skiing and the threat of avalanches, and the need to know how to conduct rescue efforts.
Scary video last week from the backcountry of Lake Tahoe in Northern California showed a skier triggering an avalanche and getting trapped in the snow as if it were cement. Fortunately, he survived, despite several mistakes by the rescuers.
Snowbird ski patrol director Dean Cardinale, after seeing his share of backcountry skiing deaths due to avalanches, took to educating the public with avalanche courses, where he discovered how incapable his students were in using their transceivers.
“There were all these different people in the course with their gear and they were good skiers,” Cardinale told Powder, our sister publication. “But they didn’t know how their beacon worked and didn’t have a good way to practice.”
So, Cardinale, who is also president of the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue, raised money to purchase a $10,000 Rescue Training Center, the first in North America, and created an area at the ski resort where skiers can practice using the beacon. Powder has video that shows the RTC in action.
Because of the popularity of the training center at Snowbird, the WBR purchased three more for other Utah ski resorts: The Canyons, Solitude, and Snowbasin.
Additional training might not have made a difference in the avalanche that claimed Lindenblatt, but it is hoped, obviously, that this unique tool will help educate backcountry skiers so as to prevent, or at least limit, the amount of deaths by avalanche. Sounds like an idea that is past due.
Generic photo from Wikimedia Commons shows the aftermath of an avalanche.