Avalanche victim rescued from mesa

Terry Wieker, left, and another volunteer with Mesa County Search and Rescue carry a litter that was used during the rescue an avalanche victim Wednesday from Thunderbird Trial in Rapid Creek basin, which is on the west side of Grand Mesa. Two local cross-country skiers were caught in the avalanche.

Rotor wash from the St. Mary’s Hospital CareFlight helicopter creates a cloud of dust as it lands Wednesday at an avalanche rescue staging area east of Palisade.

A 35-year-old Grand Junction man was carried off Grand Mesa and flown to St. Mary’s Hospital on Wednesday after he was injured in an avalanche.

Seth Anderson, co-founder of Loki outdoor apparel in Grand Junction, appeared to have broken both legs during the slide on the west side of Grand Mesa, according to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department.

He was cross-country skiing with Ann Driggers, head of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership and the author of “The Outdoor Junkie” blog on GJSentinel.com.  Driggers, 40, was not believed to be injured, although she also was taken by CareFlight to St. Mary’s, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Driggers posted a message to her Twitter account just before she and Anderson descended from what she referred to as Town Run, which is atop Thunderbird Trail nearly 4,500 feet above the Grand Valley on Wednesday before the avalanche.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, Driggers and Anderson were able to call 911 on a cell phone after the avalanche, which happened about 1 p.m.

Members of Mesa County Search and Rescue reached them 4 p.m. They were brought off Grand Mesa at 7:30 p.m.

Emergency personnel were staged at the end of Rapid Creek Road east of Palisade.

Members of the Palisade Fire Department and the Powderhorn Ski Patrol also were involved in the rescue. Anderson and Driggers were stuck in a remote area of Grand Mesa, Benjamin said.

The avalanche danger on Grand Mesa is “low” with pockets of “moderate” danger for wet slide activity, particularly in the afternoon, when the sun warms the snowpack, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The control center cautioned backcountry skiers and riders that they could “expect to find shallow sluffing of surface snow, especially on sunny slopes as daytime temperatures rise. Be aware of your surroundings, as these shallow slides will not have big consequences unless they carry you into trees, over cliffs, or catch you in terrain traps.”

The National Weather Service has forecast continued warm temperatures through today before a winter weather advisory takes effect at midnight. It is set to last until 6 p.m. Friday at higher elevations.

In the Grand Valley, the temperatures is expected to hit 62 degrees today before dipping to 35 tonight and 27 degrees Friday, with a chance of rain or snow both nights.


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