A 37-year-old New Mexico man fell and tumbled an estimated 2,000 vertical feet while skiing the north face of Wilson Peak, about 15 miles southwest of Telluride.
The mishap was reported shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday by the man’s friend, who witnessed the fall, said Susan Lilly, spokeswoman for the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office.
The skiers reached the summit of Wilson Peak, and pretty quickly after beginning the descent, the man fell and tumbled, possibly struck a rock and had “an almost tomahawk” fall down the slope he intended to ski, she said. He landed on an apron, an open area immediately beneath the chute.
“We don’t have exactly how this happened,” she said. “It wasn’t something we could ascribe to catching an edge or a wrong turn or something like that. It’s simply this is treacherous terrain, and he had an unfortunate accident.”
The victim, who was not identified, suffered traumatic but non-life-threatening injuries, Lilly said. The man was conscious when his friend and rescue workers reached him, she said.
“He certainly could have been more seriously injured given the nature of his fall,” Lilly said.
The man was flown from the backcountry area and taken by ambulance to the Telluride Medical Center.
Lilly said the skiers were experienced and prepared.
It took about three hours to rescue the skier and another two hours to extricate the other skier and rescue workers.
“It’s the inherent nature of skiing in the backcountry,” Lilly said. “Nature is not forgiving. You don’t have to make a mistake for an accident to happen.”