CAIC: Colorado Avalanche Information Center

2018/11/25 - Colorado - Red Lady Bowl, Mt. Emmons

Published 2018/12/02 by Ben Pritchett - Forecaster, CAIC

Avalanche Details

  • Location: Red Lady Bowl, Mt. Emmons
  • State: Colorado
  • Date: 2018/11/25
  • Time: 8:40 AM
  • Summary Description: Avalanche triggered by skier from low on slope
  • Primary Activity: Backcountry Tourer
  • Primary Travel Mode: Ski


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


  • Type: SS
  • Trigger: AS - Skier
  • Trigger (subcode): r - A remote avalanche released by the indicated trigger
  • Size - Relative to Path: R2
  • Size - Destructive Force: D2
  • Sliding Surface: O - Within Old Snow


  • Slope Aspect: SE
  • Site Elevation: 12300 ft
  • Slope Angle: --
  • Slope Characteristic: Planar Slope

Accident Summary

A party of 5 skiers climbed Mt. Emmons near sunrise. The group looked into Red Lady Bowl, hoping to set the first tracks of the season. They dropped some small blocks of cornice to test the slope, but recognized the test was not very robust since they could not pry any large chunks loose.

Hesitantly Skier 1 began to descend. Approximately 15 turns into the slope Skier 1 triggered the avalanche, which released approximately 200 feet above Skier 1. The group alerted Skier 1, who traversed skier's left to avoid the flow of the oncoming avalanche. The avalanche overran Skier 1's tracks, but Skier 1 was never caught in the flowing avalanche. A smaller sympathetic avalanche released to skier's left, so Skier 1 ended up between the two avalanches in motion. After the avalanches stopped, Skiers 2 through 5 joined Skier 1 near the toe of debris. The group continued to the valley floor without incident. 

Upon reflection, one member of the group chalked up the close call to "powder fever." They recognized they were rolling the dice. In the end, after debating who should go first, all agreed to drop in to a feature they had skied weekly for around 20 years.