Brothers in avalanche thought each other died

27 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Brothers in avalanche thought each other died.

SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, Colo. OPHIR — Two brothers survived what authorities describe as a major avalanche on a popular backcountry ski route Wednesday — despite the fact they both thought the other was dead. According to the sheriff’s department, Brian Holmes, 26, and Alex Holmes, 27, both of Ophir, were skiing from Trout Lake to Ophir Wednesday afternoon.

Brian started a descent in the Fatwa area near Waterfall Canyon, which triggered a “massive” avalanche that quickly swept him out of sight of his brother. Sheriff’s Deputies launched a multi-agency rescue effort that included volunteer search and rescue personnel, a helicopter and Telluride Ski Patrollers with a trained avalanche dog, who were eventually stood down before being dispatched to the scene. When he tried to ski down, he triggered a second slide, and — deeming the conditions too dangerous— tried to return to Trout Lake for help, believing his brother was dead. Brian told sheriff’s deputies that he was able to self-extricate himself after being carried an estimated 1,000 feet down the slide, ultimately landing on his back, mostly buried in snow, with only his face and one arm exposed. After about 15 minutes of digging, Brian freed himself. “The San Juans in general can represent some of the most tenuous snow conditions on the continent,” said sheriff’s deputy Todd Rector. “Given the circumstances and nature of the slide, this skier is extremely fortunate.” According to KTVD, Brian spent about an hour attempting to locate his brother and contact 911 before making his his way down to the Town of Ophir, reaching on-scene deputies at about 2 p.m.

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