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April 21, 2013

Our community suffered a terrible tragedy yesterday. Six men were caught in a massive avalanche in the Sheep Creek area near Loveland Pass that left five dead. Joe Timlin, 32, from Gypsum; Chris Peters, 32, from Lakewood; Ryan Novack, 33, from Boulder; Ian Lamphere 36, from Crested Butte and Rick Gaukel 33, from Estes Park were killed in the slide. The sixth member of the group, Jerome Boulay, survived but was trapped for an extended period of time before being dug out by rescuer, Mike Bennett, authorities say. The avalanche released into old snow layers with crown dimensions approximately four feet deep and 500 feet wide, according to CAIC's website. The snowboarders were all properly equipped for the backcountry and were all wearing avalanche beacons.

The group was part of the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Gathering that was organized by Timlin and designed to celebrate Colorado's terrain and snowboard community through raising backcountry safety awareness. Snowboard Colorado was the media sponsor for this gathering, and when approached, thought it was a great opportunity to help promote avalanche education.

Unfortunately, this horrible tragedy was a hard lesson that no matter what your experience may be, the backcountry is an uncompromising place and we always urge everyone to use extreme caution. Remember these men anytime you snowboard in any uncontrolled area and know you can never be too prepared.

Our hearts go out to the families and friends of all those who have passed. We thank the rescue workers, emergency personnel, and volunteers who worked tirelessly into the night at the scene yesterday.


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