Father shares memories of son killed in avalanche near Silverton

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DENVER — A Durango man was killed Sunday when he got caught in an avalanche near Silverton.

Abel Palmer, 27, was skiing with a friend in an area between Silverton and Red Mountain Pass, an area known by locals as Sam’s Trees.

The northern San Juan Mountains had received 20 inches of fresh snow and avalanche danger was listed as considerable.

However, Palmer was willing to take that risk.

“He never left a flake unturned. He was always up for it. He started skiing when he was 2 years old,” said Abel’s father, Jaime Palmer.

Palmer was buried under a small amount of snow. His friend was able to find him very quickly, but he couldn’t be revived.

“He went face first down in the avalanche and he was down, his head was down with his hand sticking up out of the snow when he was dug out,” said Creek Tompkins, a friend of Palmer’s who learned first hand details about the accident.

Abel’s friend on the mountain immediately started CPR while trying to signal for help.

“He was shooting off his gun. He was shooting it off trying to get the attention of anyone around,” Tompkins said.

“It was snowing, low visibility and cold. I think they just got turned around in there, but I don’t know,” Jaime Palmer said.

It’s a loss that family and friends say will always be felt.

However, Abel died doing what he loved on a mountain he loved, and it’s a mountain that will forever have special meaning for Abel’s father.

“I’m going to go back and ski there every January 21st for the rest of my life,” Jaime Palmer said. “You know, where you take your last breath, maybe there’s a piece of you that stays there.

His spirit is going to live right on up there in the mountains on Red Mountain.”

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