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Eagle County issues statement on tragic avalanche in San Juans

February 3, 2021, 12:12 pm
The Nose with blue indicating avalanche boundary and red showing skier routes (CAIC photo).

Eagle County has cancelled a pair of planning commission meetings today and Thursday following the presumed deaths of two county staff members in an avalanche between the towns of Silverton and Ophir in San Juan County on Monday.

“Due to the tragic events this week that touch the entire Eagle community, Eagle County is cancelling the Planning Commission hearings planned for February 3 and 4, 2021,” an Eagle County statement read on Wednesday. “Thank you for understanding. We encourage everyone to hold space for themselves and their loved ones during this time of mourning.”

Three people were missing and presumed dead when recovery operations were suspended Tuesday evening. The missing individuals, who were part of a larger backcountry ski party, have not yet been identified.

The avalanche was Monday on a route known as The Nose, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Here’s a summary from the CAIC report:

“Preliminary Report: On February 1, 2021, a group of backcountry skiers triggered a large avalanche between the towns of Silverton and Ophir. They were traveling near an area locally known as The Nose. There were seven skiers in the group. Four people were caught, carried, and fully buried in the debris. The group recovered one person with minor injuries. The other three people are still missing. Search and rescue operations lasted into the night, continued on February 2, and were suspended on the evening of February 2 due to avalanche hazard. Efforts will resume when rescuers feel it is save to access the site. The avalanche released on a northeast-facing slope around 11,500 feet in elevation (near treeline).”

Avalanche danger was “considerable” in the area at the time of the slide and will likely get worse with an incoming storm expected to drop more than a foot of new snow across all Colorado Mountains over the next four days.

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