On April 8th, 2018 at approximately 1428 hours, a Search and Rescue call came into the Pitkin County Regional Emergency Dispatch Center (Dispatch) from the Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol for an avalanche in the area of the Maroon Bowl. The call was for two skiers caught in an avalanche outside of the Aspen Highlands ski area boundary. The party consisted of two skiers skiing in the backcountry off of the top of Maroon Bowl which is located approximately 7 miles from the city of Aspen.
Aspen Highlands ski patrol members witnessed the slide and were able to confirm that there was movement at the tail end of the slide. After talking to the reporting party, it was learned that the skiers were skinning 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 the reporting party. Only one of the skiers exited the slide path, which is where Ski Patrol lost visual sight of the second skier.
The second skier was able to communicate with Ski Patrol via cell phone and was able to climb back up hill and reach the skier who had been caught in the avalanche. It appears that the skier caught in the slide hit a tree. Unfortunately, despite resuscitation efforts, the skier caught in the slide did not survive.
Mountain Rescue Aspen was notified of the avalanche/incident and promptly began to organize a search and rescue effort. Upon further investigation of the parties involved, it was tragically discovered that 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 sustaining several non-life threatening injuries.
Recovery efforts will continue as soon as Monday if weather and safety conditions allow.