DENVER (KDVR) – FOX31 is learning more about the Colorado skier who died after falling into the crevasse of a glacier in Alaska.
Crevasses are deep, wedge-shaped openings that form in the moving mass of ice.
Mason Stansfield, 28, of Ouray was killed after falling 100 feet below the glacier’s surface. The crevasse is located 20 miles east of the Denali summit at about 8,000 feet altitude.
The tight-knit community of Ouray is left reeling after hearing the shocking news of a life taken too soon.
“The community is rocked right now. There’s just a pervasive sense of shock and disbelief by everyone,” said Nate Disser, co-owner of San Juan Mountain Guides.
Stansfield was well known and well loved in the small community of Ouray.
“And that’s what’s really, really tough I think for people to see somebody who had that effect, to lose them at such a relatively young age,” Disser said.
Stansfield worked at San Juan Mountain Guides as a professional guide for the last six years. He also worked as a guide in Alaska’s Denali.
“He was doing this as a career, and not just for a few years,” Disser said.
Denali National Park said in a release they received a report from a satellite communication device that a skier had fallen into a crevasse.
“We know he took a long fall, approximately 30 meters,” Disser said.
The skier’s close friend who made the call was uninjured.
“That device did give a pretty rapid response, from my view,” Disser said.
A helicopter arrived on the scene of the fall within 30 minutes of the call for help. The release said a ranger was lowered into the crevasse, reaching Stansfield’s body about 100 feet below the glacier’s surface.
Early unconfirmed reports from the park say the snow had hidden the crevasse, and there was another more obvious one in the area the duo was attempting to skirt.
“As the season progresses, you’ll see these like dips in the glacier, typically indicate that there’s a crevasse right there. Sometimes, they are easy to see, and sometimes they are not. Sometimes, they are filled in with snow in a specific area, and you really have no idea what’s underneath them,” Disser said.
Disser said Stansfield had been excited for the trip. He and his partner were flown to the Eldridge Glacier on Saturday where they intended to spend a week camping and ski touring the glacier.
“He was a very well-rounded mountaineer, climber, skier…he was somebody who had sort of a swiss army knife of skills,” Disser said.
To be a good guide, Disser says, you have to not only be skilled technically, but skilled also in the art of people. Stansfield could do both — a well-rounded man who will be dearly missed.
“I think people are just rocked,” Disser said.
There have been 127 deaths in Denali National Park since 1932. According to data from the park, 11 of those have been caused by crevasse falls, the last death from a crevasse fall was in 1992.