PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. — An avalanche in the area of Maroon Bowl near Aspen resulted in the death of a Mountain Rescue Aspen crew member on Sunday, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said.
A search and rescue call came in saying two skiers were caught in an avalanche outside of the Aspen Highlands ski area boundary.
The skiers were skiing in the backcountry about seven miles from Aspen.
Aspen Highlands ski patrol members witnessed the slide and were able to confirm there was movement at the tail end of the slide.
Responders learned the skiers were going uphill on skis in the Maroon Bowl when the avalanche broke loose.
Both skiers were caught in the avalanche and “raked through the trees,” according to a witness. One of the skiers was able to get out of the slide path and Ski Patrol lost sight of the second skier.
The second skier was able to communicate with Ski Patrol by cellphone, and was able to climb back uphill and reach the skier who had been caught in the avalanche.
It appeared the skier caught in the slide hit a tree, officials said. Despite resuscitation efforts, the skier did not survive.
Mountain Rescue Aspen was notified of the avalanche and death and began to organize a search and rescue effort.
Upon investigation, the team discovered the deceased skier was a current member of Mountain Rescue Aspen.
The terrain and conditions were deemed too unsafe to attempt a recovery effort on Sunday.
The second skier was able to slowly ski out downhill on his own after suffering several nonlife-threatening injuries.
Recovery efforts will continue as soon as Monday if weather and safety conditions allow.