Two men died in separate accidents yesterday on the slopes of Aspen Highlands and on Burnt Mountain, a popular out-of-bounds area adjacent to the Snowmass ski area.
The first victim was snowboarding on Canopy Cruiser at Highlands when he struck a tree, continued down the slope, struck another tree and was impaled by a branch on the left side of his chest, according to the initial investigation by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. The branch broke off and the man was discovered on the ground.
The snowboarder was apparently riding alone at the time of the accident. A group of four snow riders was heading down Canopy Cruiser when a woman became separated from the others, rounded a tree and found the man.
The second accident occurred when a 43-year-old “local skier” got caught in an avalanche while skiing out of bounds on Burnt Mountain. An eyewitness reported that the victim dropped in from a ridge and knocked loose a section of snow. The man was skiing with two other people, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Other skiers saw the victim get buried and worked for about 10 minutes to dig him out of the snow. Others at the scene called 911, the sheriff’s office said.
The Sheriff’s Office relayed the information to the Snowmass Ski Patrol at 1:39 p.m. The Sheriff’s Office asked the patrol to act as first responders. Patrollers reached the man at 2:18 p.m. and took over CPR until 2:53 p.m., when he was pronounced dead, according to Skico’s statement.
The two accidents are the first two fatalities in or adjacent to the four ski areas of Aspen and Snowmass this season.