Seattle woman killed in ice slide

Image shows where a block of ice broke off above a climbing party Saturday in the Uncompahgre Gorge south of Ouray, which triggered a small avalanche that swept down the lower part of the ice-climb and hit climber Van Le Little, who was standing near the bottom and was caught, carried and killed.

A Seattle woman died Saturday morning in the Uncompahgre Gorge south of Ouray, when ice and snow swept down from above where she was taking pictures and carried her to the creek below.

Van Le Little, 44, was climbing with three others in Ouray County, as part of a guided climb, near mile marker 89 off U.S. 550, about one mile north of the snow shed, Ouray County Emergency Manager and Deputy Coroner Glenn Boyd said, calling her death “a freak accident, for sure.” 

Little was untethered and off to the side of the climbing photographing her fellow climbers with Chicks with Picks when a large chunk of ice broke free and hit the ledge above her and her party. The ice triggered a slide of snow and ice.

The small avalanche caught and carried Little, who came to rest in the creek below, where she was fully buried, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center's preliminary report. Avalanche forecasters extended their condolences to Little's family and friends.

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