Avalanche claims life of backcountry skier in Telluride

Telluride skiing (stock image)

A Telluride backcountry skier was killed in a snowboarder-released avalanche Tuesday morning in the Bear Creek Preserve area in Telluride, Colorado. 

The victim was found by Search and Rescue and Telluride Ski Patrol with a probe line near the creek above the boulder at the top of the Bear Creek trail at approximately 1130am and identified as 47 year-old Salvadore Garcia-Atance.  

“Of course this is not the outcome any of us were hoping for and on behalf of myself and all of us involved in this mission, we extend our sincerest condolences to Mr. Garcia-Atance’s family,” Sheriff Bill Masters said.  

The slide occurred some time between 10 and 11am Tuesday in the Tempter area of Bear Creek a couloir off the Telluride Ski area and ran approximately 75 feet wide leaving a debris field 300 feet long and 15 to 20 feet deep. 

Mr. Garcia-Atance was reportedly skinning up the Bear Creek Trail having started his ascent from the trailhead in the Town of Telluride. 

A two-hour ground search was done in the area with rescuers and Telluride Avalanche dog teams late Tuesday for two hours to no avail. 

The search resumed early this morning (Wednesday) with dozens of rescuers, avalanche dogs and assistance from Telluride Helitrax helicopters.  

Sheriff Masters said, “We could not have done this mission without the cooperation and expertise of our volunteers, Telluride Ski Patrol, Colorado Avalanche Information Center and Telluride Helitrax. We appreciate all of the people and agencies who came together.”

Bear Creek Trail is reopened but with the caution that with the new snow expected, avalanche danger will continue. “Whether you are walking your dog, skinning up, or backcountry skiing, Bear Creek is not a safe place to be,” Sheriff Masters said.

The death is under investigation.

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

Share your thoughts