Blizzards Force Rescuers To Abandon Search For Woman At Avalanche Site With AM-Avalanche
Blizzards Force Rescuers To Abandon Search For Woman At Avalanche Site With AM-Avalanche Danger, Bjt
ASPEN, Colo. (AP) _ Ground blizzards on Monday forced searchers to indefinitely call off attempts to find a missing woman believed to have been killed in an avalanche Sunday that also claimed two companions.
Fifteen members of the all-volunteer Aspen Mountain Rescue team returned to the avalanche site in the rugged backcountry 17 miles south of here Monday and probed with 30-foot poles for Kristyne ″Teeny″ H. Jeung, 37, a city councilwoman in Glenwood Springs.
The search party and its two specially trained avalanche dogs found poor weather at the site, said Michael Kendrick of the Pitkin County sheriff’s office.
″We have some ground blizzards,′ he said. ″We’re getting high winds pulling snow off the top of the Continental Divide and blowing it into that valley.″
Late Monday afternoon, the search was called off because of high winds and a snowstorm threatening the area.
″It’s my assumption that they don’t feel it’s prudent to risk any further individuals to recover this individual,″ said Jeff Lumsden, a supervisor at the sheriff’s office, indicating the search has been called off indefinitely.
Searchers on Monday rode snowmobiles back into the Snowmass-Maroon Bells Wilderness Area and concentrated on an area where the 200-feet-wide avalanche had formed a large snowpile 30 to 60 feet deep at the bottom of the basin.
Jeung, an emergency room supervising nurse at Valley View Hospital, was skiing with Roy M. Poteet, 31, of Carbondale and John A. Logsdon, 32, of Boulder when the avalanche struck about noon Sunday.
The three experienced backcountry skiers were among 12 cross-country skiers who had spent Saturday night in ski huts south of Aspen. On Sunday, they broke into groups and pushed farther into the mountains despite warnings of high avalanche danger.
Jeung, Poteet and Logsdon were skiing above timberline in a huge bowl near 12,700-foot Pearl Pass 17 miles south of Aspen when the avalanche plunged 800 feet down the mountainside, apparently engulfing all of them, witnesses said.
George Russell of Boulder said he and Joy Kor of Glenwood Springs could see Poteet, Logsdon and Jeung skiing across the slope one minute, and they were gone the next.
″We looked away for 30 seconds to a minute. When we looked back, we just saw a huge fracture line,″ said Russell.
″The whole slope was gone,″ said Kor.
Russell and another member of the party, Ron Osborn, dug out Logsdon almost immediately, said Russell. He said he, Kor and Osborn reached Poteet a half- hour later.
Both men were dead, said Kor, who worked with Jeung at Valley View Hospital.
Fred Braun, who maintains the huts where the skiing party spent Saturday night, said he warned the group about avalanches before they left Sunday morning.
″I told them, ‘Don’t ski in that area ...’. They said nothing,″ he said.
″The mountains don’t care. They look fine one minute, and then you get a slide,″ Braun said.
The deaths of Poteet and Logsdon brought to four the number killed in Colorado avalanches so far this season. Avalanches killed 11 people during the 1986-1987 season.
In Wyoming, a state Highway Department snowplow operator was rescued Monday after being trapped for several hours in his truck after it was hit by an avalanche and thrown off a road at Teton Pass near Jackson.
Don Fisher, 63, of Jackson was slightly hypothermic but not seriously injured, said Teton County Sheriff Roger Millward. He was found by coworkers who went looking after he failed to answer radio calls, Millward said.