NewsCovering Colorado


Two people, dog survive avalanche south of Monarch Crest in Chaffee County, officials say

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Posted at 12:34 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 11:52:10-04

UPDATE | March 13, 9 p.m. — The County Sheriff's Office corrected its information on Sunday, saying that a dog caught in an avalanche in Chaffee County had actually survived. The dog was found at the Monarch Crest trailhead on Saturday and has been reunited with its owners, the sheriff's office said. No other details were available.

You can find the original story below.


CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. – A dog was killed in an avalanche that happened south of Monarch Crest in Chaffee County Thursday, according to the county’s search and rescue team.

The Chaffee County Search and Rescue Team (CCSAR) was informed of an avalanche at around 5:20 p.m. Thursday south of Monarch Crest. The caller told CCSAR officials they had received a text from two friends who needed help returning to the trailhead after being caught an the avalanche along with their dog.

The rescue team eventually caught up with the two people as they were descending the Crest trail and provided more details as to what happened.

The hikers told rescuers they were going up their previously set skin track near the northeast face of Mount Peck along with their dog around 4:30 p.m. when they moved from a treed slope into a more open bowl, according to CCSAR officials.

The hikers told rescuers the avalanche then broke wide above them, propagating to ground and catching both of them and the dog. One of the hikers triggered an airbag pack and was partially buried approximately 50 yards above his friend, who was buried almost entirely by debris but was able to keep a hand above the snowpack.

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The hiker who triggered his airbag pack self-rescued and was able to rapidly dig out his friend.

“Unfortunately, their dog was also caught and buried and was not recovered,” CCSAR officials said in a news release.

Both hikers were able to return to the trailhead under their own power and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center was notified, officials said.

The Sawatch Range is currently listed as Considerable (3 out of 5 levels) on the Avalanche Danger Scale, with wind slab and persistent slab avalanches as the main problems on Northwest to East slopes above and near treeline, officials said.

“CCSAR South mourns the loss of the subject’s dog and recognizes the outcome could have easily been much worse,” the rescue team said in the release. “We again urge all backcountry users to check the avalanche forecast before heading into winter terrain; the snow will still be there to enjoy as avalanche conditions improve.”