By Jeremiah Vaille
Colorado School of Mines students, Bobby White and Josh Trujillo made national news over winter break with the rescue of a dog from an avalanche. They have been featured on ABC News, Good Morning America, and other sites, and will make an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show soon. The content of these stories follows the events that allowed them to rescue the dog, Apollo, on December 26. That day, when they were backcountry skiing, Bobby White and Josh Trujillo witnessed an avalanche on Berthoud pass not far from them. The two students went to the area of the avalanche where they encountered another group. Trujillo confirmed with the group that the avalanche did not bury or hurt any people, but that a dog had been swept down a cliff by the avalanche. Trujillo still put his avalanche beacon in search mode and made sure no people wearing avalanche beacons had been buried. After their confirmation that there were no humans buried, Trujillo and White helped the dog’s owner, Scott Shepherd, search for the dog, Apollo. Trujillo and White used probes to poke into the snow, hoping to feel Apollo to begin digging him out.
After 20 minutes, when preparing to abandon the search to move to safer ground, Trujillo spotted Apollo’s nose sticking out of the snow. He shouted to the others and Trujillo, White, and another passerby began digging him out. When Apollo was rescued, he appeared to be unharmed aside from a slight limp. He ran to his owner, Shepherd, and was safely brought back to the parking lot.
Mines students, White and Trujillo were interviewed by ABC News for an article published on January 3. The article includes footage from White’s GoPro as they finally rescued Apollo. More of the GoPro footage can be found on White’s YouTube channel (Robert White).
White and Trujillo did not intend to go into avalanche terrain that day, but the actions of Shepherd’s group and dog brough them into terrain that they felt was unsafe. Because the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) labeled the steep terrain at Berthoud Pass with a “high” avalanche danger, White and Trujillo were staying on less steep terrain until they saw that others needed to be helped.
At Colorado School of Mines, many students value their time in the outdoors. Many students continue or begin backcountry skiing while at Mines in the mountains nearby. If you intend to backcountry ski, make sure you are safe and aware, like White and Trujillo were. Always bring avalanche safety equipment with you when you are in the backcountry, and check the avalanche forecast at www.avalanche.state.co.us before going into the backcountry. Avalanche safety is essential for the safety of backcountry users and the people around them. For more information and education visit the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website.