Aspen Snowmass begins the new year on a somber tone as the resort mourns the loss of one of their own. Ski Patroller Patsy Hileman was found dead on Sunday, December 30th after triggering an avalanche. She was found in an area known as Ship's Pow Glades — a permanently closed section of Snowmass Ski Area.
In the official statement released by Aspen Skiing Company, Hileman was said to be on duty at the time of the accident. The 26-year veteran was stationed at the High Alpine chairlift, and when she failed to report in a search was initiated at 12:45pm. Patrols located her body at 1:23pm, and initiated immediate medical treatment. Unfortunately, their attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful and Hileman was pronounced dead at 1:37pm.
speculation was that the victim had be sweep over a cliff after triggering a small avalanche in the closed area. A pair of tracks were found leading into the slide zone. The scenario is further corroborated by the Pitkin County Coroner who described the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the chest and back.
This is the first avalanche-related fatality in Colorado this season, and The Colorado Avalanche Information Center was on the scene to investigate. Their initial incident report stated that the victim, “likely died from injuries sustained in the avalanche and subsequent fall.”
After returning to the scene of the slide on Monday, CAIC Director Ethan Greene told the Aspen Daily News, “the snowpack in Ship’s Prow is partly boot-packed and partly in unaltered backcountry-like condition, and they haven’t determined whether the avalanche area had been packed at all.”
In the statement, Mike Kaplan, President and CEO of Aspen Skiing Company remarked, “This is a shocking and tragic accident that deeply affects everyone in the company.” “Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with her family and friends at this time.”