Rescuers made their way through high-altitude snow and helicopters were called in for medical airlifts after an avalanche hit three climbers on Sunday morning, killing one and injuring two in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
Around 9 a.m. Sunday, a rockfall and avalanche was reported near Dreamweaver Couloir, a steep and narrow ravine on Mount Meeker in northern Colorado, according to the National Park Service (NPS).
A number of climbers witnessed the slide and alerted search and rescue officials.
Seeing a brief weather window for high-altitude rescue, helicopters were dispatched to the snow-capped peaks at around 11,500 feet to evacuate casualties. Initially, a seriously injured man and a less injured woman were picked up.
“Due to the location and severity of injuries to one of the men, members of the Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue Team requested assistance from a National Guard helicopter. Colorado from Buckley Air Force Base to free it via a lifting operation, using a winch-operated cable. “The NPS said in a statement. “It happened around 2 p.m., when there was a brief weather window. Rocky Mountain Rescue assisted in helicopter winch operations.
The man was airlifted to Rocky Mountain Medical Center for treatment, while the woman was airlifted up the mountain and taken to a nearby hospital.
Later, a team braved snowy conditions and poor visibility on foot to locate the third individual, a man who was found dead under the debris of an avalanche.
Photos from the rescue show a team walking through fields of snow and rocks during the search.
Rescue teams reportedly used a RECCO radar device and search dogs to help find the missing climber.
The identities of those involved in the accident have not been made public, pending notification of their families.
Experts believe that climate change, along with cabin fever brought on by more time spent at home during the pandemic, could combine to create a greater risk of avalanche death in the US Alpine mountains. February 2021, for example, saw one of the highest avalanche death rates in the United States in 100 years.