Avalanche claims ski area patroller


Staff Writer

A Wolf Creek Ski Area employee died following an avalanche on March 4.

Early information indicates that Colin Sutton, a ski patroller at the ski area, was skiing in the South San Juan Mountains in Conejos County with other ski area personnel when the incident occurred.

The death was the seventh caused by an avalanche in Colorado this winter season, and the 19th in the U.S.

Sutton was skiing in the back country in Conejos County Tuesday afternoon with other ski area employees when the avalanche came down and Sutton was caught.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) issued a preliminary report following the incident, with little information included.

According to that report, the avalanche occurred south of Platoro Reservoir near Conejos Peak, at approximately 11,700 feet in elevation. The report was modified later in the day Wednesday to include information provided by Wolf Creek Ski Area (below).

Wednesday morning, the ski area released the following statement: “At approximately 1:30 PM on the 4th of March 2014, a member of the Wolf Creek Ski Patrol perished in an avalanche while conducting research outside of the ski area boundary in Conejos County, Colorado. He was immediately extricated by his partner and a second team of two patrollers working in the same area. Resuscitative efforts were maintained as he was flown to Mercy Regional Medical Center. He was pronounced deceased at approximately 4:45 PM by attending physicians.”

The CAIC was slated to visit the site Wednesday. No report of that visit was available by presstime Wednesday.

Sutton’s age was not verified by presstime Wednesday, but he was believed to be in his mid 30s.