AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Avalanche, Climbing Alone, Colorado, Cimmaron Mountains, Baldy Peak

AVALANCHE, CLIMBING ALONE

Colorado, Cimmaron Mountains, Baldy Peak

On March 30, Heidi Kloos (41), traveling with her dog, went to climb a remote ice climb on the northeast side of Baldy Peak (10,603 feet). Ouray County Search and Rescue was contacted on March 31 when a friend found that Heidi had not returned home.

A small team went to assess the scene and discovered the avalanche. Ouray County Search and Rescue found tracks leading into a large avalanche debris pile. Heidi had left her pack and climbing gear, including an avalanche beacon, just outside of the avalanche debris. The assumption was that Heidi dropped her gear and headed up to assess the climb and was caught low in the path. Her dog was also found at the scene.

Darkness hampered further rescue efforts until the next day. A larger rescue team and two avalanche rescue dogs and their handlers arrived at the staging area early on the morning of April 1. A team of two went into the area, followed shortly thereafter by the dog teams. After several hours of searching the complex terrain, a dog team located a ski. The ski was found at the toe of the debris, in line with the clues that were found the day before (pack, climbing skin). Rescuers decided to do a probe search up the likely line of trajectory. After about 45 minutes, rescuers felt they had a strike and dug down to confirm. One of the avalanche dogs also gave an alert in this area. Rescuers continued to dig and found Heidi buried under five to six feet snow and debris.

Heidi had 15 years of experience guiding big mountains around the world. She was a very experienced backcountry traveler and a certified alpine mountain guide (AMGA). She had completed professional level avalanche safety training (AIARE Level III).

Analysis

It is ill advised to travel alone in avalanche country. (Source: Colorado Avalanche Information Center)