Wolf Creek patrol director death underscores avalanche danger

The head of Wolf Creek ski area’s ski patrol, a former U.S. Marine and Gulf War veteran, died in an in-bounds avalanche Monday while doing routine snow safety work at the southern Colorado ski resort.

The death of Scott Kay, 41, a husband and father of two young boys, underscored the “considerable” avalanche danger in Colorado’s mountains, according to the state’s Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), which provides up-to-the-minute snow and weather conditions, as well as avalanche safety education programs. Colorado typically leads the nation in avalanche deaths each season.

Kay was a 16-year veteran of Wolf Creek, which gets the most annual snowfall in Colorado at about 465 inches a year. His death is the first avalanche death in the state this season, and eighth such fatality of Colorado ski patroller since 1950, according to the CAIC.

His death is being mourned not only at Wolf Creek, which closed to the public Monday and has since reopened, but throughout the state’s tight-knit ski industry.

An unusually robust early season of snowfall, especially in the northern and central mountains, has avalanche experts cautioning anyone considering back-country travel to go with partners and bring all the necessary avalanche safety gear, including beacon, shovels and probes. Also, check the CAIC website for the very latest conditions.

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