CAIC: Colorado Avalanche Information Center

2014/11/03 - Colorado - Mt Owen, Ruby Range

Published 2014/11/05 by Spencer Logan - Forecaster, CAIC

Avalanche Details

  • Location: Mt Owen, Ruby Range
  • State: Colorado
  • Date: 2014/11/03
  • Time: Unknown
  • Summary Description: 2 backcountry tourers caught, partially buried
  • Primary Activity: Backcountry Tourer
  • Primary Travel Mode: Foot
  • Location Setting: Backcountry


  • Caught: 2
  • Partially Buried, Non-Critical: 2
  • Partially Buried, Critical: 0
  • Fully Buried: 0
  • Injured: 0
  • Killed: 0


  • Type: SS
  • Trigger: AF - Foot penetration
  • Trigger (subcode): u - An unintentional release
  • Size - Relative to Path: R2
  • Size - Destructive Force: D1.5
  • Sliding Surface: S - Within Storm Snow


  • Slope Aspect: NE
  • Site Elevation: 12600 ft
  • Slope Angle: 39 °
  • Slope Characteristic: Gully/Couloir

Accident Summary

Two backcountry tourers triggered and were caught in an avalanche on 11/3 on Mount Owens in the Ruby Range west of Crested Butte. The two were on foot, climbing a north-facing chute locally know as “Jenga.” They were about halfway up when the avalanche broke above them. They braced through the initial portion of the avalanche. The avalanche increased in size as the whole slope cleared out. The skiers were caught, carried, and partially buried. They were uninjured but lost some equipment.

Investigators  classified the avalanche as SS-AF-R2-D1.5-O/G, a soft slab triggered while on foot, small relative to the path, relatively harmless to people, and ran on old snow and the ground. The slide started as a storm-slab avalanche about 6 inches deep. It broke through several graupel layers and ran on a 4 cm thick melt-freeze crust formed in early October. It scoured to the ground in places. It started on an ENE aspect around 12,600 feet and ran about 400 vertical feet. The slope angle ranged from 37 to 41 degrees. Debris spread about 60 feet wide and ranged from 1 to 5 feet deep.