Update: Name released in avalanche fatality off of Ajax

Feb 24, 2015

 February 24th, 4pm UPDATE: The Pitkin County Sheriff's office says the victim of Monday’s avalanche outside the boundary of Aspen Mountain has been identified as John Martin Gancsos. Mr. Gancsos, who was 64 years old, was more commonly known to local area residents as “Marty.” Information related to cause/manner of death will be released by the Pitkin County Coroner’s Office at a later date after completion of a post-mortem examination. Aspen Public Radio will have a remembrance of Gancsos tomorrow, Wednesday, morning.

 February 24th, 9am UPDATE:  The body of the skier killed in yesterday’s avalanche outside of Aspen has been successfully recovered. One 5-person “hasty” team of recovery personnel from Mountain Rescue Aspen entered the field at approximately 5:00am Tuesday. A separate team of two remained at a staging location to serve as a safety/backup team. The recovery team reached the subject at about 6:40am and all personnel were safely out of the field by 8:30.

The early morning recovery came after Mountain Rescue Aspen evaluated the risk of further avalanches in the area. It was determined that no pre-recovery avalanche mitigation work was needed in the area surrounding the location of the victim.

The identity of the victim will be released by the Pitkin County Coroner’s Office at a later date.

February 23rd, 7:37pm:

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office plans to recover what is believed to be the body of a local man today who was caught in a fatal avalanche Monday.

The sheriff’s office reported on Twitter Monday afternoon that the slide occurred out-of-bounds off of Aspen Mountain. Sources say it was in the Keno Gulch area, off of the Ruthies side.

The victim is a long-time local who worked in the restaurant industry. Aspen Public Radio knows the name of the victim but is holding it back until officials notify the next of kin. The identity of the victim is expected to be released today. The cause of death is expected to be released following a review by the Pitkin County Coroner’s Office. He was reportedly skiing with one person, who was not injured.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office says it was notified shortly before 3pm Monday about the incident. The uninjured skier in the party told county dispatchers that a snow-slide had occurred in an area outside of the skiable boundary of Aspen Mountain in the Castle Creek Valley. Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol, members from Mountain Rescue Aspen and sheriff’s deputies responded.

The ski patrol found the body of the person just after 4pm at approximately 9,400 feet. The skier was pronounced dead at approximately 5pm.

Emergency personnel have not been able to remove the body, yet. Responders expect to finalize the process this morning after additional avalanche hazards are mitigated.

With up to 30 inches of snow falling in the Aspen area in the last few days, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center rated the avalanche risk as “considerable.” The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department reminds skiers to use extreme caution in out of bounds and backcountry areas. They also urge skiers to take appropriate survival and rescue equipment with them in case of an emergency.

This story will be updated when more information is available.