Wolf Creek Patroller Dies in Avalanche

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SAM Magazine—Pagosa Springs, Colo., Mar. 7, 2014—On Tuesday, Mar. 4, Wolf Creek Ski Area avalanche technician and senior patroller Colin Sutton was caught in an avalanche while conducting an exploration and research mission via helicopter on Conejos Peak. The avalanche occurred at about 1:30 p.m. He was immediately dug out by his partner and two other emergency personnel, then airlifted by a Medevac helicopter to the emergency room at Mercy Regional Hospital in Durango, Colo., where he was pronounced deceased at 4:30 p.m.

Conejos Peak is in the South San Juan Mountain Range about 20 miles east of Wolf Creek. The nature of the research Sutton was performing has not been disclosed.

Sutton was a full-time professional ski patroller at Wolf Creek for 12 years. He was a National Ski Patrol member, Basic Life Support and CPR Provider, Outdoor Emergency Care Provider, Certified Emergency Medical Technician, Certified Level III Avalanche Technician, State of Colorado Type I Explosives Permit possessor, snow study director at Wolf Creek Ski Area (AvTech), and a Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment Qualified Dog Handler with his black Labrador, “Boca.”

Sutton became the second Wolf Creek ski patroller to die in an avalanche since November 2010, when ski patrol director Scott Kay was killed by an inbounds avalanche while performing avalanche control work.

“Colin began skiing at Wolf Creek when he was three years old, and his passion for the mountains took him around the world,” Wolf Creek said in a press release. “He will be missed deeply by all of us at Wolf Creek Ski Area.”