Backcountry skier triggers avalanche that sweeps man down couloir, leaves without apologizing

male skier
The skier was luckily uninjured and able to ski away from the incident (Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're skiing in the backcountry, there's always a chance that you'll trigger an avalanche. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago we reported on a professional avalanche forecaster who was caught in a slide. So it can happen to anyone. If the worst happens and that slide sweeps another skier down the mountain, however, it's also good etiquette to stick around and help them. One Colorado skier apparently didn't get that memo, and recently left the scene of such an incident without so much as an apology.

Speaking to the Vail Daily about the event, Avon resident Trevor Carlson says he and three friends were skiing Mount Quandary, a Colorado 14er, on the morning of April 21. The party was about one-third of the way down a couloir when a group of three dropped in above them. Carlson says the last skier to drop in triggered an avalanche that swept his friend around 1,000 feet to the bottom of the couloir, where he was partially buried.

Carlson and his friends rushed down to dig out the skier, but were shocked when the other group failed to stick around or apologize for the incident, instead just skiing away.

“I’m wildly disappointed by the actions of people who claim to be locals and claim to be backcountry enthusiasts,” says Carlson, who reported the avalanche to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Avalanche on sunny day

Carlson and his friends rushed down to dig out the skier, but were shocked when the other group failed to stick around (Image credit: Getty)

In his report, he says his group had communicated their plans to the other skiers, and that party could easily see them from above. Fortunately, he says his friend was uninjured in the slide and able to ski out.

There's always a risk of triggering an avalanche if you're recreating on a slope that's 30 degrees or more, which is why it's so important to carry an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. However, even if you're worried that you're at fault, it's vital to stick around until you're sure all skiers are accounted for, and to help rescue buried skiers. Learn more in our article on avalanche safety.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.