Searchers found the body of a missing Telluride skier late Wednesday morning, in the backcountry near Bear Creek Preserve.
Salvadore Garcia-Atance, 47, was discovered by search and rescuers and Telluride Ski patrol with a probe line, near the creek at the top of Bear Creek Trail, the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.
Garcia-Atance had been reported overdue Tuesday afternoon. The SMCSO said he was killed in a snowboarder-released avalanche that morning. The death is under investigation.
"Of course this is not the outcome any of us were hoping for and on behalf of myself and all of us involved in this mission, we extend our sincerest condolences to Mr. Garcia-Atance's family," Sheriff Bill Masters said.
The avalanche came down Tuesday morning in the Tempter area of Bear Creek, running about 75 wide and leaving a 300-foot-long debris trail up to 20 feet deep.
Garcia-Atance was reportedly going up the Bear Creek Trail from the trailhead in Telluride. When he was reported overdue, deputies, search and rescue, ski patrollers and avalanche dogs launched a search late Tuesday. Search efforts resumed Wednesday morning with dozens of volunteers, the avalanche dogs and help from Telluride Helitrax choppers.
Masters thanked all involved, including the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Bear Creek Trail has been reopened, but more snow is expected and avalanche danger remains. It is not a safe place to be, Masters said.
The Bear Creek Trail is closed, with no access from the trailhead in Telluride or from Telluride Ski area, as dozens of volunteers and deputies search for a Telluride skier missing since Tuesday.
Authorities fear the man, whose name has not been provided, may be injured, or may have been caught in an avalanche.
According to the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, it is believed the man entered the Bear Creek area from Telluride on Tuesday.
That morning, a slide had occurred in the Tempter couloir of Bear Creek, off the Telluride Ski area. It is possible snowboarders who were skiing off the Telluride Ski area and into the Bear Creek Preserve triggered the slide, which left a 300-foot debris field, 15 to 20 feet deep.
Rescue efforts Tuesday took place into the evening, but the missing man was not located.
Wednesday, Sheriff Bill Masters ordered ski lifts 14 and 6 to be closed, in addition to the earlier closure of Bear Creek, to help keep search and rescue operations safer.
At last report Wednesday morning, more than two dozen search and rescue personnel, deputies and two ski patrol and avalanche dog teams were looking for the man, with Telluride Helitrax searching by air.
Bear Creek remains closed until further notice. Stay out.