Regional avalanches over the weekend claim two lives

Nine avalanche deaths in Colorado this season

by Mark Reaman

Two people were killed in avalanches in the region last weekend. The first occurred Friday, March 17 near Chair Mountain in the Marble area of Gunnison County. The second took place just outside of Aspen.

According to the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Office, the body of 36-year-old Joel Shute of Glenwood Springs was recovered from a large avalanche that occurred March 17. “Members of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and West Elk Search and Rescue were flown via helicopter into an area of rugged terrain where the avalanche occurred,” a statement by the sheriff’s office reads. “They started their search while other search teams were in route to the area. The body was located around 11:30 a.m. and recovery was made via helicopter.”

Two other people – a skier and a splitboarder – were also caught in the avalanche but got out. The splitboarder was able to hike out to get help and the other skier was rescued by helicopter, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Both were injured and transported for medical treatment, the sheriff’s office said.

On Sunday afternoon, another person died in an avalanche near the Aspen Highlands ski area. Two others were also caught in that slide but managed to escape. One was brought down safely by rescue teams on skis and the other was airlifted by helicopter, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. The avalanche was triggered around 1:25 p.m. Sunday and happened in the Maroon Bowl area, a steep northwest-facing slope in Highland Peak, just outside the boundaries of the ski area of the Aspen Highlands resort. 

According to the Aspen Daily News, the man killed in Sunday’s avalanche in Maroon Bowl was identified by the Pitkin County Coroner’s Office on Monday as Gabor Hazas, 54, of Budapest, Hungary.

Those two deaths bring the total of avalanche-related deaths in Colorado to nine for the 2022-23 ski season.

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