CAIC: Colorado Avalanche Information Center

2019/02/19 - Colorado - Temptation avalanche path, Bear Creek, south of Telluride

Published 2019/02/20 by Brian Lazar - Forecast Staff, Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Avalanche Details

  • Location: Temptation avalanche path, Bear Creek, south of Telluride
  • State: Colorado
  • Date: 2019/02/19
  • Time: 12:00 AM (Estimated)
  • Summary Description: 1 skier caught, fully buried, and killed
  • Primary Activity: Backcountry Tourer
  • Primary Travel Mode: Ski


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


  • Type: SS
  • Trigger: AR - Snowboarder
  • Trigger (subcode): --
  • Size - Relative to Path: R2
  • Size - Destructive Force: D2
  • Sliding Surface: --


  • Slope Aspect: E
  • Site Elevation: 9800 ft
  • Slope Angle: --
  • Slope Characteristic: Gully/Couloir

Accident Summary

Preliminary Report: On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, a backcountry skier was reported overdue in the Bear Creek drainage, near the town of Telluride. The skier skinned up the Bear Creek trail from town. A concerned family member made the report that he was missing around 4:20 p.m.

San Miguel County Sheriff's Office and Search and Rescue, along with members of the Telluride Ski Patrol sent a search team with two search dogs to the area. Deputies learned that a rider triggered an avalanche earlier in the day in the Temptation area in the Bear Creek drainage. The search team saw the large debris pile from this avalanche. They searched for approximately two hours, but they could not locate the missing skier before nightfall. 

The search resumed on the morning February 20. They located the buried skier in the avalanche debris with probe poles. The avalanche broke around 75 feet wide on an east-facing slope at an elevation of approximately 11,800 ft. It ran 2000 vertical feet to the valley floor. It deposited debris approximately 1000 feet long, 100 feet wide and up to 30 feet deep. 

Our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of the people involved. We will publish more information as it becomes available.