Skier reported killed in Marble-area slide

A 37-year-old man reportedly died in an avalanche in the Marble area Sunday.

Gunnison County Sheriff Rick Besecker said a response crew is headed to the scene this morning after survivors reported the fatality.

“There were three people who were on this expedition in the back country and two of them were able to survive the avalanche and ski out to make the report,” he said.

The victim reportedly is from Summit County.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center said the incident occurred on a west-facing slope at about 11,000 feet in elevation in the Raspberry Creek area south of Marble, in the Raggeds Wilderness Area.

Besecker said the two surviving men said the victim was buried in the slide around 2 p.m. and they were able to dig him out, but he was no longer alive.

He said he hasn’t yet heard what caused the avalanche. However, he said it reportedly occurred on the middle of a slope, leaving concern about overhanging snow that could pose a danger to response crews.

“Due to the extreme circumstances we’re going to be very cautious in the recovery. This is a recovery, not a rescue, at this point,” he said. “It may be delayed … indefinitely until we can be assured of the safety” of responders.

He said a team of probably eight or more people headed to the scene this morning from Crested Butte and probably had arrived at the trailhead by late morning.

The avalanche information center rates general avalanche conditions as moderate in the Aspen and Gunnison areas, with heightened danger in specific terrain. Besecker said he believes extreme conditions exist in some places, but specific conditions in the remote area where the slide occurred may not have been assessed.

This is the state’s second avalanche fatality this winter. On Dec. 30, Patricia Hileman, 49, of Snowmass Village was killed when a small slide swept her over a cliff at the Snowmass ski area, where she was a ski patroller.


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