CAIC: Colorado Avalanche Information Center

2014/12/31 - Colorado - Kelso Mountain

Published 2015/01/02 by Ethan Greene - Forecaster, CAIC

Avalanche Details

  • Location: Kelso Mountain
  • State: Colorado
  • Date: 2014/12/31
  • Time: 12:00 AM
  • Summary Description: One climber, traveling on snow shoes, caught, buried, and killed
  • Primary Activity: Climber
  • Primary Travel Mode: Snowshoe


  • Caught: 0
  • Fully Buried: 0
  • Injured: 0
  • Killed: 1


  • Type: HS
  • Trigger: AI - Snowshoer
  • Trigger (subcode): --
  • Size - Relative to Path: R2
  • Size - Destructive Force: D2
  • Sliding Surface: O - Within Old Snow


  • Slope Aspect: E
  • Site Elevation: 12400 ft
  • Slope Angle: --
  • Slope Characteristic: --

Accident Summary

Preliminary Report

A party of two climbers met at the base of the Steven's Gulch road near the Bakersville exit on I-70. Their goal was to climb Torrey's Peak via the Kelso Ridge route. They were joined by a third climber and formed a group of three. The group traveled on snow shoes up the Steven's Gulch road to the summer trail head. From there, they followed an existing skin track along the east side of Kelso Mountain. The skin track took the group along the edge of Kelso Mountain and into the track of several avalanche paths. The group expressed concern with the route, but did not leave the existing track. They reached a slope of particular concern and decided to cross one at a time. The first climber crossed the slope and stopped to watch the second. The second climber traveled along the skin track and across the slope. The avalanche released and washed him into low-angle terrain and buried him in debris. The rest of the group used a single set of beacon, probe, shovel, and multiple snow shoes to locate the victim, but could not revive him. They called 911 and the Clear Creek County Sheriff's office and Alpine Rescue Team responded. They reported a burial depth of 1.5 m.

There was another fatal avalanche accident at this site on December 22, 2005. Click here to read the report

A team from the CAIC visited the site on January 1, 2015 and issue a final report within the following week.




Image Missing
Figure 2: Profile from climber's left flank