Fatal Colorado Avalanche Leaves Three Dead


Photo shows a warning of variable conditions in Colorado. By Dylan Mullen ‘22

Dylan Mullen ‘22

Three backcountry skiers found dead after the group they were with triggered an Avalanche in Colorado. The skiers were found buried on Wednesday, February 3, two days after the Avalanche.

A group of seven backcountry skiers traveling between Silverton and Ophir, in an area locally known as The Nose, triggered an avalanche on February 1, 2021. Four people were carried and buried. One person was recovered with minor injuries but the other three could not be rescued making it the deadliest avalanche in Colorado, since 2013, when six skiers were caught in an avalanche near Loveland pass. The three men that died are Adam Palmer, Seth Bossung, and Andy Jessen.

“The skiers’ bodies were located under more than 20 feet of avalanche debris, but were not removed from the area because of hazardous conditions,” San Juan County Office of Emergency Management said.

The fourth skier that was buried was able to deploy his avalanche airbag which then allowed his friends to be able to see him and rescue him. He said the avalanche happened in two waves and the second one is what buried him.

“I was fully under snow for approximately 15 to 25 seconds,” he told reporters of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Moving through an area with considerably high avalanche danger in large groups is very difficult. The CAIC elaborated on the dangers of that.

“Small communication errors and misunderstandings can be amplified in large groups,” the CAIC said. “This challenge may have played a role in this accident.”

Be sure to know your conditions before heading out this year as avalanche danger is currently labeled as considerable (level three) in most areas. This avalanche will add three to the death toll this week.

According to CNN, “At least 15 people died in avalanches that week, the deadliest week of US avalanches on record.”