CAIC: Colorado Avalanche Information Center

2016/02/05 - Colorado - Cottonwood Pass, west of Buena Vista

Published 2016/02/05 by Ethan Greene and Ian Hoyer - Forecaster, CAIC

Avalanche Details

  • Location: Cottonwood Pass, west of Buena Vista
  • State: Colorado
  • Date: 2016/02/05
  • Time: 12:00 AM (Estimated)
  • Summary Description: One rider on a snow bike, caught, buried and killed
  • Primary Activity: Snowmobiler
  • Primary Travel Mode: Snowmobile


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


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


  • Slope Aspect: E
  • Site Elevation: 11900 ft
  • Slope Angle: 36 °
  • Slope Characteristic: Convex Slope

Accident Summary

On Friday February 5th at approximately 11:00 AM a rider on a motorized snow bike was caught in an avalanche south of Cottonwood Pass. The avalanche released on an east-facing, above-treeline slope. The rider was buried with part of one boot sticking out of the snow. Another group riding in the area alerted members of Chaffee County Search and Rescue, who were training in the area. Chaffee County Sheriff's office and Colorado Parks and Wildlife also responded to the site. The rider was buried under about six feet of snow. He was extricated, but did not survive the burial. 

CAIC staff visited the site on the afternoon of February 5th. We'll publish a complete report as soon as possible. Our deepest condolences to the friends and family of the rider. 




Image Missing
Figure 2: Fracture-line profile from the north side of the avalanche.