CAIC: Colorado Avalanche Information Center

2022/03/17 - Colorado - Pilot Knob, east of Lizard Head Pass

Published 2022/03/17 by Mike Cooperstein - Forecaster, CAIC

Avalanche Details

  • Location: Pilot Knob, east of Lizard Head Pass
  • State: Colorado
  • Date: 2022/03/17
  • Time: 12:00 AM (Estimated)
  • Summary Description: 1 backcountry snowboarder caught, buried, and killed
  • Primary Activity: Backcountry Tourer
  • Primary Travel Mode: Snowboard


  • Caught: 0
  • Fully Buried: 1
  • Injured: 0
  • Killed: 1


  • Type: HS
  • Trigger: AR - Snowboarder
  • Trigger (subcode): u - An unintentional release
  • Size - Relative to Path: R3
  • Size - Destructive Force: D2.5
  • Sliding Surface: O - Within Old Snow


  • Slope Aspect: NW
  • Site Elevation: 13000 ft
  • Slope Angle: --
  • Slope Characteristic: --

Accident Summary

Preliminary: At around 3:00 PM on March 17, 2022, a solo backcountry snowboarder was caught, buried, and killed in an avalanche south of Trout Lake, about five miles southwest of the town of Ophir, in the North San Juan Mountain Forecast zone.

Telluride Helitrax, a local helicopter-skiing/snowboarding guide service, was guiding in the area. A guide noticed a large avalanche with a set of tracks entering a slide path and none exiting. He did a beacon search from the helicopter and got a signal. Two guides were dropped on the debris field. They located the victim with a transceiver search. The guides excavated the snowboarder. He was buried about 2 meters deep, and unfortunately, he did not survive. 

The San Miguel County Sheriff, San Miguel County SAR, and Telluride Helitrax all responded to the accident site and assisted in the recovery. CAIC staff will visit the accident site on Friday, and we will publish a full accident report in the coming days. 

Our deepest condolences go out to the friends, family, and everyone involved in this incident.