Backcountry Rescue from Ouray Colorado Avalanche

By Ross Minton

It was the first day of my ski mountaineering camp in near Ouray in southwestern Colorado. We set the objective to skiing the Naked Lady Couloir. While boot packing up, another party backcountry skiing above us above released an avalanche. The slide caught me and carried me around 400 feet down the couloir.

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Luckily I was not buried. But when my guide was able to reach me, he had his beacon out ready to search for me if necessary.

And luckily my guide and party knew the basics of post-avalanche patient care and backcountry evacuation.

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My right shoulder was dislocated and we successfully placed it within 30 minutes of dislocation with the help of the members of the group. We took my jacket and folded up the bottom hem so my arm had a makeshift sling to secure my shoulder.

After successful placement of dislocated shoulder, gear was divided amongst the group to reduce bearing weight for me. I was able to ski down under my own power, but needed help applying and taking off skins when necessary. It took us two hours to safely return to the car on skis.

Happy to be alive and to celebrate being 26 years old (April 2016).

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