CAIC: Colorado Avalanche Information Center

2019/03/03 - Colorado - Base Camp above Matterhorn Nordic trailhead, northeast of Lizard Head Pass

Published 2019/03/05 by Brian Lazar - Forecast Staff, Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Avalanche Details

  • Location: Base Camp above Matterhorn Nordic trailhead, northeast of Lizard Head Pass
  • State: Colorado
  • Date: 2019/03/03
  • Time: Unknown
  • Summary Description: 1 backcountry skier caught, buried, and killed
  • Primary Activity: Backcountry Tourer
  • Primary Travel Mode: Ski


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


  • Type: SS
  • Trigger: AS - Skier
  • Trigger (subcode): u - An unintentional release
  • Size - Relative to Path: R1
  • Size - Destructive Force: D2
  • Sliding Surface: --


  • Slope Aspect: S
  • Site Elevation: 11250 ft
  • Slope Angle: --
  • Slope Characteristic: --

Accident Summary

PRELIMINARY REPORT: On Sunday, March 3, 2019, a backcountry skier was reported overdue near the Matterhorn nordic trail system north of Trout Lake, near Lizard Head Pass. Two members of San Miguel County Search and Rescue were flown in via helicopter and spotted a large avalanche and debris pile, but it was late in the day and there was still risk from further avalanches. They planned for a search and rescue mission the following day.

On Monday, March 4, San Miguel Search and Rescue and the Telluride Ski Patrol sent search teams. Search teams concentrated on a large pile of avalanche debris east of Priest Lake in an area locally know as Base Camp 1. Search dogs alerted, and rescuers confirmed the body of the missing skier using probes. He was buried approximately 1 meter deep. The avalanche appeared to be triggered by the skier as indicated by the visible ski track. This was a soft slab avalanche that broke around 300 feet wide and ran approximately 600 vertical feet. It released on a south-facing slope at around 11,250 feet. It was very small relative to the path, but large enough to bury a person (SS-ASu-R1-D2)

Our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of the people involved. We will publish more information as it becomes available. Thank you to Telluride Helitrax for details and images of the avalanche.