6:34pm

Sun December 30, 2012
Avalanche

Avalanche Claims First Fatality Of The Season In Snowmass [Updated]

An avalanche killed a 49-year-old, female ski patroller Sunday in a permanently closed area at Snowmass.

Update 10:01 a.m.: The identity of the Snowmass patroller has been released, she is identified as Patricia "Patsy" Hileman. She was a 26-year veteran of the Snowmass Ski Patrol.

Our Original Post Continues:

The unidentified patroller was skiing alone in the Ship’s Prow Glades, which is adjacent to the Upper Ladder run. It's in an area known as Hanging Valley Wall. The patroller triggered a small avalanche and was swept over a cliff.

After she was overdue to her station, a search was called at 12:45 p.m. according to a statement from the Aspen Skiing Company. She was located by the ski patrol at approximately 1:23 p.m. on Sunday. Medical treatment was administered immediately, but she was pronounced dead at the scene and transported to a local clinic.

The patroller's death marks the first avalanche-related death in Colorado this winter.

“This is a shocking and tragic accident that deeply affects everyone in the company,” said Mike Kaplan, President and CEO of Aspen Skiing Company in a statement. “Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with her family and friends at this time.”

Several non-fatal slides have been triggered since fresh snowfall arrived mid-December. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center lists much of the state's mountainous regions as having "considerable" avalanche danger, due to a weak base layer of snow, coupled with nearly two feet of new snow in the past three weeks.