Six men who set off on a backcountry tour in mountains west of Denver had avalanche gear, had scanned an avalanche forecast, and were hiking toward a safer area to snowboard when they felt a collapse and heard a “whumpf.”
Within seconds, the six were swept into a gully, and all but one was completely buried in last weekend’s avalanche that was roughly 800 feet wide, 600 feet long and as deep as 12 feet, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s final report on the accident.
With just his lower left arm sticking up from the snow, the lone survivor cleared snow from his face. He struggled to free the rest of his body and screamed for help.
There was no one around to hear him.
“It covered everybody,” Colorado Avalanche Information Center director Ethan Greene said Wednesday. “There was nobody left to call 911, nobody left to look for the buried, to help the one person who wasn’t buried but couldn’t get out.”
The man remained stuck for four hours until rescuers arrived, the center’s report said.