CAIC: Colorado Avalanche Information Center

2010/11/16 - Colorado - Berthoud Pass, Nitro Chute

Published 2011/11/18 by Brian Lazar - Forecast Staff, Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Avalanche Details

  • Location: Berthoud Pass, Nitro Chute
  • State: Colorado
  • Date: 2010/11/16
  • Time: 9:15 AM
  • Summary Description: 1 snowboarded caught, carried, injured
  • Primary Activity: Backcountry Tourer
  • Primary Travel Mode: Snowboard
  • Location Setting: Backcountry


  • Caught: 1
  • Partially Buried, Non-Critical: 0
  • Partially Buried, Critical: 0
  • Fully Buried: 0
  • Injured: 1
  • Killed: 0


  • Type: SS
  • Trigger: AR - Snowboarder
  • Trigger (subcode): u - An unintentional release
  • Size - Relative to Path: R3
  • Size - Destructive Force: D2
  • Sliding Surface: I - New/Old Interface


  • Slope Aspect: NE
  • Site Elevation: 11700 ft
  • Slope Angle: 40 °
  • Slope Characteristic: Convex Slope,Unsupported Slope

Weather Summary

Cool and calm with periods of heavy snow. Overcast skies. Gusty along ridges.

Snowpack Summary

Snowpack approximately 85-130 cm deep from just below treeline to above treeline. Approximately 30” of new snow, with wind slab evident at and above treeline. Recently formed windslab sits on near surface facets and some remaining buried surface hoar from old surface about 2 ft down. Moderate wind effect evident.

Events Leading to the Avalanche

The rider caught had no pack, no beacon, no shovel or probe. Neither did his partner, another snowboarder. He had a Bernese Mountain Dog that did not get caught.

Rescue Summary

1 male snowboarder caught in avalanche this at 09:15 am Caught and transported over cliff band (nitro). Evac by GCSAR completed by 11:30. Subject had back injury. Transported by ambulance to Denver hospital. 2' fracture at crown.




Image Missing
Figure 2: Profile taken near the fracture line. Avalanche leased on the thin faceted layer approximately 2 feet down from the surface