19-year-old hiker triggers avalanche and gets swept 40 feet, Colorado rescuers say

A stranded hiker was rescued after triggering an avalanche while on a Colorado mountain trail, rescue officials said.

The 19-year-old from Indiana was hiking the Mount Flora Trail on Saturday, Dec. 3, when he “triggered an avalanche and was caught and carried at least 40 feet,” according to a Facebook post from Grand County Search and Rescue.

“He then hiked downhill, towards the highway,” rescuers said.

The man called 911 shortly before 4 p.m. when “he finally realized he wasn’t going to be able to make it to the highway,” the post said.

Grand County Search and Rescue said rescuers reached the man at about 6 p.m., according to officials. The man was able to walk out using snowshoes provided by rescuers.

“We would like to remind our readers that avalanche awareness and safety is not only for skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers,” Grand County Search and Rescue wrote. “Hikers and snowshoers are also susceptible to being caught, injured or killed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Skiers, snowmobilers and hikers can set off an avalanche when a layer of snow collapses and starts to slide down the slope.

In the U.S., avalanches are most common from December to April, but they can happen at any time if the conditions are right, National Geographic reported.

During the 2021-2022 season, there were 17 deaths nationally from avalanches, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Four of those deaths were visitors who traveled on foot.

As of Dec. 5, no deaths had been reported for the current 2022-2023 avalanche season.

The nonprofit added that “being prepared with emergency gear and extra clothing could save your life in the event of a backcountry emergency.”

Mount Flora Trail is a 6.2-mile trail near Idaho Springs, Colorado, according to AllTrails. It is “considered a moderately challenging route” and usually takes a little under four hours to finish.

“The best times to visit this trail are May through September,” according to AllTrails.

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