Colorado’s Avalanche Death Toll Climbs

– The number of fatal avalanches in the nation just increased, and two more people were killed on Valentine’s Day in Colorado. CNN and the Colorado Sun report that a snowboarder who went down the slope alone was buried on a backcountry slide near Mount Trelease, not far from Loveland Pass, around 9:30 a.m. local time on Sunday. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reports that the victim – identified as 57-year-old David Heide, according to KCNC – was found by a search and rescue team above the tree line covered with avalanche debris, his head was buried and his avalanche airbag was deployed. In a separate avalanche on Sunday, a snowmobile driver died after an avalanche above the tree line buried him under his sled at Pumphouse Lake, according to CAIC.

This marks the sixth avalanche death in Colorado this month alone, with a total of 10 for the season – the deadliest in the state since the 2012-2013 season. Experts attribute the rise in avalanche deaths in several states to more people participating in outdoor winter sports during the pandemic, as well as poor snow cover. In better news, a snowboarder made it out of a living avalanche near East Vail on Saturday thanks to quick thinking and a special device via AP. Although his head was buried under about a foot and a half of powder, the man dug a small pocket of air in front of his face and sucked in oxygen with an AvaLung that draws air from the snow and exhaled carbon dioxide into an exhaust pipe so the user does not breathe it again. He survived 10 minutes until his snowboard partner could find him. (Read more avalanche stories.)

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