The ski season has just begun, yet a death has already occurred at Monarch Ski Resort. The victim was a twenty-three year old member of the U.S. Army from Ohio. Chaffee County deputies reported that he was snowboarding on Dec. 2nd at Monarch when we lost control and crashed into a tree.

This is by far the most common accident which results in death on the ski slopes. The Ohio native was wearing a helmet, but often blunt trauma to the chest is the cause of death in ski collisions with trees. After the 2015-2016 ski season, the National Ski Area Association reported that the average person who died on the slopes of U.S. ski areas was “a 30-something experienced male skier wearing a helmet who hit a tree going too fast on an intermediate run.”

A second common ski accident resulting in death occurs when a skier falls into a tree well – the area of loose snow surrounding the base of a tall pine tree. Often skiers are unable to extract themselves and ultimately suffocate. The Canadian Ski Patrol estimates that 90% of people trapped in a tree well are unable to break free.

The dangers are clear, but can also be avoided by skiing in control and always skiing with a buddy.