Colorado's Loveland Pass Avalanche: Lessons Learned

From Outside Magazine: All Feeds
April 26, 2013 - 7:13pm

Jerome Boulay opened his eyes to darkness: He'd been buried alive. He remembers his surprise as he was able to move his left hand across his face, clearing an airway to the surface. Buried, but alive. "I was gasping for air and thought for sure I was dying, with snow packed so tightly around my throat that I couldn't breathe," he'd later tell one of his rescuers. "I could think only of my daughters. I was just freaking out." As he began the slow process of digging himself out, one brush of his fingertips at a time, he came to a harder truth: The five guys he'd been with just seconds before were gone.

He'd have four hours of hell, revisiting the day's mistakes and missteps as he lay prone in the snow in Sheep’s Creek, less than 200 yards from US Route 6 on Colorado's Loveland Pass, where the group had parked just moments before triggering a slab avalanche. Unable to free his arm enough to dig the rest of himself out—much less rescue his five friends, two of them buried inches of him—it was all he could do to shout into the wind for the next several hours in the hopes somebody would hear him. Joe Timlin—sales manager for Jones Snowboards, Yes Snowboards, and Now Bindings—the man who'd organized the weekend's Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Gathering as a backcountry safety and splitboard gear demo: Gone. His truck was parked less than 200 yards from where he was buried. Rick Gaukel, the certified avalanche-safety instructor who'd given a brie...

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