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Surviving skier triggered avalanche

Aspen Times Staff Report
Vail, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Tuesday’s avalanche that killed two men was triggered by the surviving skier, according to a report issued by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The survivor, Jason Luck, 33, of Arvada, Colo., was in alpine touring gear and in the lead when, around 1:50 p.m., he triggered a large avalanche on a northwest-facing slope of Mount Shimer, the report said.

As the larger avalanche slid, a smaller slide on a north-facing slope was triggered around the three men and carried them off.

Luck traveled 100 feet. But Alexis Dodin, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Simon Ozanne, of Maplewood, N.J., slid further and were uncovered 800 feet below, buried 100 feet apart. One was found 7 feet below the surface and the other was found 3.3 feet below the surface, the report said.

Both Dodin, 32, and Ozanne, 35, were on split snowboards.

Luck found and unburied both Dodin and Ozanne using avalanche beacons that all three were wearing. He then used a cellular phone from one of the victims to call 911 about one hour after the initial slide. When rescuers arrived, both Dodin and Ozanne were dead.

The larger avalanche was a slab slide on old snow ” large enough to destroy cars and break trees ” with a crown at 12,000 feet. The smaller avalanche that killed Dodin and Ozanne was on a north-facing slope at 11,800 feet and slid 800 vertical feet. The report said the crown on the slab avalanche was 165 feet wide and 2 to 2 1/2 feet deep.

The snowpack at the accident site was about 5 feet deep.

The report notes that the men were “well prepared” for self-rescue, stating they all had beacons, probes and shovels. Further, the three dug a pit to check for instability.

Though the avalanche danger rating in the Roaring Fork Valley on Tuesday had been “moderate,” the avalanche information center had warned of “persistent weak layers and deep instabilities on steeper northwest, north and northeast aspects near and above treeline.”

The report also said the men had checked the agency’s Web site before their trip.


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