Two backcountry skiers who were training for the Elk Mountains Grand Traverse, a 40-mile backcountry ski race between the towns of Crested Butte and Aspen, have passed away in an avalanche that was triggered on Saturday.
Aspen resident Owen Green, 27, and Carbondale resident Michael Goerne, 37, were on a traverse in the East Brush Creek area dubbed Death Pass when the avalanche struck. Both men were located by Crested Butte Search and Rescue, buried under five feet of snow.
Their deaths brings the number of U.S. avalanche fatalities for the 2018/19 season to 15.
Accident Summary From CAIC
Preliminary Report: On Saturday, February 16, 2019, two backcountry skiers were reported overdue in the Brush Creek drainage, near the town of Crested Butte. The report was made just prior to 8:00 p.m.
Crested Butte Search and Rescue (CB-SAR) sent a hasty team into the field. They discovered tracks into fresh avalanche debris. They did not find tracks exiting the slide but did find faint beacon signals in the slide area. Shortly after midnight, CB-SAR group determined conditions were too dangerous to continue search and rescue operations.
On Sunday, February 17, 2019, a team of six Crested Butte Search and Rescue members were air lifted to the scene by helicopter. An additional team of 5-6 members entered the area by ground. Among the rescue members were representatives of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) and the Crested Butte Avalanche Center along with three Crested Butte Mountain Resort Ski Patrollers whose primary objective was to ensure the area was safe for recovery efforts.
The rescue team quickly located the bodies of the two men as beacon signals were transmitting. At approximately 3:00 p.m. the bodies had been transported by the team to the helicopter landing zone at Brush Creek.
Our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of the people involved. We will publish more information as it becomes available.