East Vail avalanche claims life of Vail founder's grandson

By Colorado Ski Authority

Published: Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014 – 930a

VAIL, CO., Jan 8, 2014 – Tony Seibert, 24, grandson of one of Vail's original founders Pete Seibert, died yesterday in an avalanche while skiing the East Vail Chutes. Three others, as yet identified, were also injured and have been released from the hospital.

Pete Seibert, along with Earl Eaton, are often credited with discovering and mapping out the terrain that eventually became Vail Mountain.

The avalanche occurred fully in Charlie's Death Chute of the popular East Vail Chutes. East Vail is popular with backcountry skiers and is accessible through an area of Vail Mountain that is served by lifts. The terrain on Charlie's Death Chute specifically and East Vail Chutes in general is very steep, between 35 and 40 degrees.

“One of the problems we’re dealing with over the last two days is windloading,” said Spencer Logan, of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. “We’ve had a few small storms accompanied by very strong winds that drift the snow into slabs 2 to 4 feet thick. Those are on top of the snowpack, and on the bottom of the snowpack we have a really weak foundation. We have early-season snow that sat on the ground, and it gets really weak in cold weather."

Avalanches in East Vail have now claimed 10 documented lives since 1986. The popularity of this backcountry area, combined with the elements that create hard slab sliding, create this as a deadly environment, particularly in January.

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