Avalanche buries University of Northern Colorado president, kills son in dangerous backcountry conditions


An avalanche partially buried the president of the University of Northern Colorado and killed his 22-year-old son while they were off-trail skiing on New Year’s Eve.

UNC President Andy Feinstein told the Greeley Tribune that he and his son, Nick, were in an area known as Numbers outside of Breckenridge Ski Resort boundaries when they got caught in the slide.

“I literally had to use my fingertips to dig a pocket to see the light and dig,” Feinstein said. “One minute I was skiing and enjoying the powder, and the next minute I was riding what felt like a violent whitewash wave.”

While young Feinstein remained buried, Andy Feinstein was able to pull himself out of the snow and ski 40 minutes out of the area to get cellphone reception to call 911, the Summit County Rescue Group said.

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Nick Feinstein, 22, was studying enterprise technology integration at Penn State and was slated to graduate in the spring.
(University of Northern Colorado)

A 23-member rescue team responded with three members from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office to search for Nick Feinstein.

About two hours after the slip, a team with a search dog discovered the 22-year-old’s body.

Officials said 23 members of the SCRG responded, along with three members of the Summit County Sheriff's Office Special Operations Unit, to search for Nick Feinstein.

Officials said 23 members of the SCRG responded, along with three members of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Unit, to search for Nick Feinstein.
(Summit County Rescue Group)

Andy Feinstein said he and his son were “fit and experienced skiers”, frequently participating in outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, camping and fishing.

Elder Feinstein pulled himself out of the snow and skied 40 minutes to an area where he could get cell phone service to call for help.

Elder Feinstein pulled himself out of the snow and skied 40 minutes to an area where he could get cell phone service to call for help.
(Summit County Sheriff’s Office via Colorado Avalanche Information Center)

Nick Feinstein’s sister Rachel described Nick to the newspaper as “the best big brother and role model” who taught her everything she knows about growing up.

Jeff Tori, a family friend of the Feinsteins, told FOX31 Denver and KWGN-TV that the 22-year-old was a selfless person.

“This world needs young people like Nick Feinstein, and now we don’t have him and that’s a tragic, tragic thing,” Tori said.

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Nick Feinstein was studying enterprise technology integration at Penn State and was slated to graduate this spring.

The avalanche occurred near Peak 10 in a backcountry area known as Numbers located outside Breckenridge Ski Resort southwest of Breckenridge.

The avalanche occurred near Peak 10 in a backcountry area known as Numbers located outside Breckenridge Ski Resort southwest of Breckenridge.
(Summit County Sheriff’s Office via Colorado Avalanche Information Center)

Avalanches have killed three people in the United States so far this winter, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, which tracks deaths nationally.

Another deadly avalanche on Saturday buried and killed a snowmobiler in Montana. The third avalanche death occurred Dec. 26 near Nitro when the landslide grabbed four people in the backcountry near Nitro Chute in Colorado, completely burying two and killing one.

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Avalanche risk remained “considerable” in Colorado’s high country this week following recent snowstorms, the agency said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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