Three backcountry travelers “dodged a bullet” over the weekend in Colorado after Summit County Rescue Group says they were "very lucky not to have been killed or injured in an avalanche."
Local search and rescue crews performed two simultaneous missions on Sunday, January 3rd, responding to a pair of skiers stranded on Mount Royal and a hiker missing on Quandary Peak.
In the first rescue incident, two skiers became stranded on Mount Royal when snow collapsed from below them after rappelling from a saddle into the 'Coin Slot.' With no way of safely ascending back to the saddle, the skiers decided to call for help. Nine technical team members deployed into the field, evacuating the skiers via a jumar ascent.
This type of rescue procedure involved rescuers ascending a fixed rope to reach the skiers, where they were then able to safely climb back up the chute with the proper climbing equipment.
A report from the Summit Daily says the entire mission, which took place in serious avalanche conditions, lasted around five hours.
Officials noted that the skiers were "very lucky" not to have been swept away by an avalanche to the bottom of the couloir.
Crews were also notified of an overdue hiker on Quandary Peak near Breckenridge. The hiker was found hours later descending the East Ridge Trail, which is the standard class one route.
Officials say the hiker's route up the 14,265-foot mountain involved traveling through "waist-deep snow in a 40-degree north couloir above McCullough Gulch." Avalanche risk was high in this area.
Although avalanches can occur on any slope, certain factors such as weather, temperature, steepness, slope and wind direction, and snowpack conditions can increase the likelihood of triggering one.
Editor’s Note: Help fund search and rescue missions across the state of Colorado by purchasing a CORSAR card at ihelpsearch.org. This is not an insurance card. By purchasing a card, you are helping reimburse teams for costs incurred in providing help to lost and injured hikers, climbers, mountain bikers, hunters, ATV riders, skiers, snowboarders, and more.