Monday, January 07, 2008

Avalanche death in Vail

An avalanche killed a 27-year-old man Friday while he was snowboarding outside the boundaries of Vail on Friday.

Jesse Brigham, a Vail Resorts employee, was riding Vail's East Chutes with two companions when he was caught and killed in a large avalanche. The terrain was steep, 35-39 degrees, with an east to east-north-east aspect just at treeline. The large hard slab was 2 to 7 feet deep, 130 feet wide, and ran 800 vertical feet. The slide initiated on an old bed surface, but quickly ran to ground. The avalanche carried the boarder over at least one cliff band and into a group of small trees.

The other two party members quickly found the boarder, but they needed a rescue group to transport the victim out of the complicated terrain. The victim was the only party member on the slope at the time. All three party members were carrying avalanche beacons, shovels, and probes.

It was the nation's 14th avalanche death this season, but Colorado's first.

Don't count on those beacons.

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