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The 29-year-old backcountry skier who died in an avalanche near Cameron Pass on Sunday has been identified as Michelle Lindsay of Fort Collins.
According to her Facebok page, Lindsay moved to Fort Collins in October 2013 and was active in the outdoors. Prior to that, she lived in McKinley Park, Alaska. Several photos on her page show her skiing in the backcountry as well as mountain climbing. Other social media sites indicate she was a Zumba instructor and registered dental hygienist in Fort Collins
A 911 call made about 2:45 p.m. Sunday reported the skier had been caught in an avalanche near the pass, a winter backcountry recreational destination 68 miles west of Fort Collins along Colorado Highway 14.
Other members of her party dug her out, but she was fully buried and not breathing after the avalanche, according to a Larimer County Sheriff’s Office news release.
Lindsay died from asphyxiation while trapped under the snow, the Larimer County Coroner’s Office announced Tuesday.
Avalanche danger: Colorado avalanche risk increasing due to heavy early snowpack
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center said Lindsay died on Diamond Peak, one of the two peaks popular for backcountry skiing and snowboarding at Cameron Pass. The peak has numerous avalanche chutes, and two other people have died on the peaks.
Lindsay was the first avalanche death reported in the country this snow season.
Avalanche conditions at the time of Lindsay’s death were rated as moderate, or 2 on a scale of 5, according to the CAIC.
The avalanche, which occurred at 11,400 feet, was “2 to 3 feet deep, very wide, and running close to 500 feet vertically,” according to the CAIC.
The death coincides with an early snow season in Colorado. There were 130 avalanches in the state the first week of December and nearly 200 avalanches this snow season, according to the CAIC. Those avalanches have resulted in several people being caught in slides.
Avalanche safety tips
Check the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s current avalanche forecast to get information on current and forecast avalanche conditions. You can also call 303-499-9650. Also check the latest weather forecast to see if conditions are likely to change while you are in the backcountry.
Always have one or more companions. Even small avalanches can be fatal.
Most avalanches occur on slopes between 35 degrees and 50 degrees but can run as low as 30 degrees. Bring an inclinometer to determine slope angle.
If you hear a cracking, whumping or drum-like sound, exit the area immediately.
If crossing a slope that may be prone to avalanches, do it one person at a time. You want to have rescuers available should you get caught in a a slide.
All members of your party should carry avalanche rescue equipment, including an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe pole, and know how to efficiently use them. This increases your chances of a successful rescue and finding your friends alive.
The most dangerous times for avalanches to occur are during and for the next several days after a snowstorm.
Avoid wind-blown loaded areas like cornices, drifts and steep slopes.
Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life — be it news, outdoors, sports, you name it he wants to report it. Have a story idea, send it his way. Email him at email@example.com or find him on Twitter at @MilesBlumhardt.
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